Kiwi designer makes headway in James Dyson competition

Kiwi designer makes headway in James Dyson competition

revival vest nz james dyson awardOne potentially life-saving Kiwi entry has made it through to the finals of the international James Dyson Awards, with the winner to be revealed next month.

James McNab's Revival Vest (which was one of the top three in the national chapter of the competition) is progressing through with 14 other international designs, and will now be reviewed by James Dyson himself and his senior engineers. 

The Revival Vest uses smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes to the body that can occur during drowning.  Once it detects a change, the Revival Vest automatically inflates to bring the user to the surface and to safety. 

McNab is a 22-year-old Victoria University industrial design graduate, who says he was motivated by the death of a friend from a shallow-water blackout during free diving.

Even if the Revival Vest goes no further, coming this far out of 500 entries from 18 countries is no mean feat.

For the past two years Australian students have won the international James Dyson Award. The 2011 winner was Edward Linacre from Swinburne Universitywith Airdrop, a cleverly engineered irrigation system that created water from air.

Browse the 15 finalist entries here, or review the list below:


New Zealand – Revival Vest

Problem: Free fall diving is extremely dangerous.  In recent years many divers have drowned due to blacking out whilst under water.

Solution: Revival Vest uses smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes to the body which can occur during drowning.  Once it detects a change, Revival Vest automatically inflates to bring the user to the surface and to safety.

UK – Safety Net

Problem: Deep sea fishing is unsustainable. It is indiscriminate and captures fish too young or small to be taken to market. This leads to waste as millions of dead fish are chucked back into the sea every year and fish stocks dwindle.

Solution: SafetyNet uses a series of rings to offer young and unmarketable fish an escape route from the trawler net. The rings utilise kinetic energy to create exit signs and guide fish to safety.

USA - The Beth Project

Problem: There are over 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who require prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs are very expensive and can be uncomfortable because they don’t fit properly, hindering everyday life.  Most prosthetics use rigid materials leading patients to often replace them due to weight and height change. This is costly and difficult in developing countries where transport is an issue.

Solution: The Beth Project is a pain-free, affordable, self-adjusting limb that can last the patient for a life-time. This not only reduces costs but allows the patient to lead the most normal life possible travelling further and more efficiently.

Austria – Smart Aid

Problem: It can be difficult to administer first aid to people in dangerous locations.  First aid vehicles can be slow and sometimes find it difficult to reach victims.

Solution: Smart Aid uses an unmanned aerial vehicle linked up to your smart phone to ask for or provide help in times of need.  The app also helps to offer advice to those in trouble.

Singapore - Fil’o

Problem: Parents who suffer from hearing problems are not able to tell when their child requires attention.

Solution: Fil’o is a device that connects child and parent through vibrations and light. Using a wrist watch, a light and a monitor the parent is alerted to their child’s needs throughout the day and night time.

UK – Alto

Problem: Sewing machines are clunky and complicated which puts people off learning to sew.  The lack of proficient sewers means that mendable clothes are being thrown away.

Solution: Alto is sleek and attractive and designed with beginners in mind.  It simplifies threading using a metal guide which runs from reel to needle.  Speed is controlled by a foot pump and by pressing with your fingers as you sew.

Germany – Emergency Airdrop

Problem: Delivering aid in areas which cannot be reached by land or by boat is a challenge.  Rescue workers can’t reach those in need and rely on planes but parachutes are expensive and often aid is lost.

Solution: Made up of two elements: a cargo container and a three winged system, it mimics the passive flight of the sycamore seed to bring the aid to land smoothly.


Australia - Reach and Match

Problem: Braille literacy is falling. 50 years ago 51 percent of blind children used braille as a primary reading medium but by 2011 this fell to just 9 percent. Students who are said to be able to read braille on average acquire higher literacy rates and we risk seeing this rate fall even more.

Solution: Reach and Match is a toy for both blind and visually impaired children to learn braille. This device also introduces young children to patterns, symbols and spatial awareness, core skills for childhood development.


USA – GiraDora

Problem: With no running water or drainage in developing countries the burden of washing clothes can be great. Washing clothes by hand is time consuming, can cause stress on your back and can be very costly using up large amounts of water.

Solution: Gira Dora is a human powered washer and spin dryer. With this new device the time it takes to wash clothes decreases dramatically. The average hand-wash can take up to 1 hour, GiraDora reduces the time to around 3 to 5 minutes. This device’s upright operation combats the issue of back pain. This device allows you to use 1/3 less water.

Australia – O2 Pursuit

Problem: With an ever increasing global population, environmental impact and sustainability become more and more difficult to keep under control.

Solution: O2 pursuit is a motorbike which replaces petrol with air, using a Rotary Air engine. This engine is powered by air which is compressed using solar and wind energy.

USA -  Balde a Balde

Problem: Worldwide over 780 million people are without access to clean water resulting inmore than 3.4 million deaths. 99 percent of these deaths are in the developing world. Day to day tasks involve water being transferred between buckets leading to contamination and spillage.

Solution: This device is an affordable portable tap eliminating the unhygienic and messy transfer of water from bucket to bucket, saving water and decreasing the potential for contamination.

UK – Stephoe

Problem: Farmers in developing countries are sustaining serious back injuries and upper body fatigue from over use of the traditional hoe.

Solution: Stephoe features a foot step which allows the hoe to be levered into the ground without strain to the user.


Spain –  Hop!

Problem: Suitcases are heavy and cumbersome to lug around an airport - a frustrating precursor to a holiday.

Solution: Hop follows its owner obediently by detecting signals from their mobile phone. Using these signals it keeps at a constant distance from its owner.

France – LOUIS

Problem: Modern cities can appear like drab concrete jungles, lacking in colour and character particularly as we begin to develop our cities more to house our ever growing population.

Solution: Louis is a special kind of concrete floor surface which reacts with water to reveal decorative patterns. When it rains the water hits the concrete it creates geometric shapes.

Holland – ReWired

Problem: Rooms used for different functions require varying lighting styles to create the right environment. With fixed ceiling lighting this becomes extremely difficult.

Solution: Using a cable and pully system, ReWired enables you to adjust the location of a ceiling light.

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