Clever Kiwi inventions aim to solve everyday problems

Clever Kiwi inventions aim to solve everyday problems

The creativity of some New Zealanders has granted them a spot among the finalists of the international James Dyson Award, an award run in 18 countries and supported by the James Dyson Foundation and British Council New Zealand.

Clever Kiwis have submitted their design ideas to solve everyday problems, including a quad bike that doesn’t roll, a lightweight and breathable cast for fractured bones and a design-your-own desk chair.

Ten New Zealand entries, including the three national finalists, will progress to the international James Dyson Award competition and the winner could win $73,000 to help commercialise their idea.

Cortex, by Nelson designer Jake Evill, is a breathable, waterproof and lightweight cast for broken bones. Evill got the idea after breaking his hand and being fitted with a convention cast that he found difficult to scratch and impossible to wear under long sleeve shirts.

His solution was to scan his fractured hand with a 3D printer to produce a reconstructed 3D model. Parts are then snapped together to create a snug fit on the broken limb and ventilation comes to the arm through its ‘holey' membrane. The honeycomb-patterned cast provides extra reinforcement to where the bone is actually broken, versus engulfing the entire limb in a heavy cast.

Auckland designer Nick Marks created the Tahr Quad, a quad bike designed specifically for farming. It uses a completely different suspension and chassis system in combination with intelligent computer technology to prevent four wheel vehicles from rolling. Marks designed an automatic balancing system, which borrows its principle from two-wheel bikes which lean into corners. Internally it gyrates and shifts the bike’s mass and lowers its centre of gravity, stabilising the vehicle and rider. All four wheels are designed to maintain contact with the terrain.

The Fabseat is the creation of Wellington designer Evan Thomas who looked to reduce waste and increase pride of ownership in the things we own. The Fabseat is a desk chair that people can create for themselves using materials that have been cut to their individual body measurements and cushioning preferences. The chair is designed online by the individual, materials are then sent from local suppliers and it is up to the person to follow simple steps to build their unique slat chair.

Established in 2001 the James Dyson Award is held in association with British Council New Zealand, The Designers Institute and IPONZ to recognise and reward up and coming Kiwi designers with product design ideas that best demonstrate innovative and inspiring solutions to everyday problems.

“I want to celebrate young, inventive problem solvers who are unafraid to question. It's these minds that will solve the challenges of the future,” says inventor James Dyson about the award.

David Lovegrove, James Dyson Award NZ head judge says that “this year’s James Dyson Award is the first time the judges have seen the emerging trend of owner customisation of products, made possible through digital manufacturing like 3D printing”.

The national winner will travel to the UK for the London Design Festival next month.  They will earn a $3000 cash prize for travel, plus an official fee package from the Intellectual Property Office of NZ (IPONZ).

The winning New Zealand entry will be unveiled at a ceremony to be held in Auckland on 22 August.  Entries can be viewed on

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