Veggie Cooler and Self-Heating Shoes, Winners in Global Design Contest

Design students from around the world have submitted their entries for this year’s James Dyson Award, and an international winner will be announced in November.

The only stipulation for the project—which is sponsored by the James Dyson Foundation—is to “design something that solves a problem”. Submissions range from self-heating shoes and magnetic seat belt buckles, to renewable wave power, and a portable life pack that helps aids disaster victims.

The finalists each win $3,000, and the national champion will receive $48,000, with an additional $16,000 donated to his or her university.

Here are just a few of the finalists:

USA – myWater

As water demand exceeds supply on a scale that has never been seen before, water conservation has become a critical issue for all. myWater— designed by Anthony Jakubiak of Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute—is a simple LCD display that lets homeowners view real-time water use, compare it over time, and use that information to change behavior. Jakubiak originally intended to build a greywater reuse system, but after much observation and prototyping it became clear that the real problem was lack of feedback on water usage.

United Kingdom – Renewable Wave Power

This multi-directional system is especially designed to work with the peaks and troughs of North Atlantic waves on the west coast of Scotland. The Renewable Wave Power system was inspired while kitesurfing and sailing off the west coast of Cumbria where the sheer power of the waves suggested real potential for energy generation.

Russia – The Hot-Step

This winter shoe harnesses the energy created when we walk. The sole and walls of the shoe contain heating elements powered by a generator that works from the pressure applied to the sole when the wearer walks around. After two minutes of walking, heat begins to radiate upwards, warming the feet.

Switzerland – The New Safety Belt

In 1959, when safety becomes a bigger issue on our roads, the three-point safety belt was designed. But while the technology in our cars has advanced at breakneck speed, the humble seat belt has remained essentially the same, and it’s neither comfortable nor ergonomic. This new safety belt is a reworking of the classic safety belt design. The entire mechanism is placed in the lock fixed at the belt, and due to the rotating magnet in the lock, the locking pin appears automatically as soon as the belt approaches allowing for one-handed operation.

Singapore – First Few Days

Katrina, Sandy, and the recent floods in Colorado – these types of events, which often leave victims stranded for several days without water, food or electricity, inspired the “First Few Days” backpack which can filter contaminated water into drinkable water and generates electricity at the same time. The hand pump on the water filter creates electricity that can power a mobile phone, torches or radio.

Spain – OLTU Fruit and Vegetable Storage

Did you know we’re all storing our fruit and veg the wrong way causing them to rot too soon? In the U.S. alone 45 percent of all fruit and vegetables goes straight into the trash. A team from Spain has developed a cooling system for fruit and vegetables that requires no electricity and keeps food at optimum temperature. Two terracotta containers are placed one inside the other with water between them. When the outer container gets hot the water begins to evaporate cooling the inner container which holds the food. The OLTU cooling system runs on the heat generated at the back of a standard refrigerator.

Other entries in the contest include a transparent face mask from France and a portable oxygen cylinder small and light enough to be carried around discretely by children with severe asthma.

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