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Kiwi James Dyson finalists take their place

A harvester that converts vibrations from city traffic into electricity and handles that turn sticks into sophisticated tramping poles are among those that made the cut in the New Zealand leg of the annual James Dyson Award global product design innovation contest.

Five Kiwi entries, including three national finalists, are in with a chance to have their inventions reviewed by Dyson design engineers who select the top 20 projects. From there James Dyson, the British inventor the awards are named for, chooses the international winner  (who get $45,000 for themselves and $15,000 for their university to commercialise their idea), and two runners up.

The harvester was created by Auckland’s Manoocher Zarif. He made it from a Piezo device, which converts pressure and movement into electricity, lighting up an LED lamp. Zarif is a Massey University design graduate who works at a billboard company. The design could power lighting, billboards and signs as an off-grid option for urban areas, he says.

Another Massey design graduate, James Skeggs, came up with Traverse, a pair of trekking pole handles that can be attached to sticks so trampers can more safely gauge and cross rivers.


“Rivers are one of the greatest hazards in our outdoors. On average there are three river crossing deaths a year in New Zealand, and seventy percent of tramping related injuries involving trips, slips or falls.

“This design set out to promote the awareness of safety within tramping, and encouraging safer decision-making in and around rivers,” says Skeggs. After completing a river safety course, he consulted with The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council when designing his product.

Wellington designer Zach Challies entered a 3D-printed base to anchor a nose prosthetic. It’s designed to give confidence to facial prosthetics wearers, as traditional models are prone to rips and tears and can easily be dislodged, he says. The base connects to three implants in the wearer’s skull, via magnets.

Challies is a design student at Victoria University. “Traditional prosthetics restrict the active lifestyles of their wearer,” he says. “They fear the dislodging of their nose and exposure of their facial deformities making them anxious in most public situations. My second solution is a two piece, non-traditional prosthetic worn for sports. This prosthesis could have the same retention mechanism; if the outer prosthetic facade was knocked loose a flat guard would allow airflow and protect the wearer’s sensitive area.”

The New Zealand winner will win $4,000, a fee package from the Intellectual Property Office of NZ (IPONZ) and a membership to The Designers Institute of New Zealand. All entries can be viewed at www.jamesdysonaward.org.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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