A bazooka which fires buoyancy aids out to sea was honoured for its ingenuity today.
Samuel Adeloju, 24, an industrial design graduate from Sydney, won the James Dyson Award amid hopes his invention could save thousands of lives.
Mr Adeloju's design, the Longreach, shoots an emergency buoyancy aid up to 150 metres out to sea.
It is made of hydrophobic foam which rapidly expands upon hitting the water to ensure buoyancy.
Sir James, the British inventor best known for his pioneering bagless vacuum cleaners, said: "Longreach is a smart solution to a very real problem.
"A product's functionality couldn't be more important when it's used to save someone's life."
Mr Adeloju was inspired to invent the Longreach after attending army reserve training and watching weapons that propel grenades and flares.
He said: "After learning about propulsion technology in grenade launchers, I had to find a chemical that would expand to 40 times its size in just 15 seconds upon hitting water.
"After four months of testing I found that hydrophobic foam worked and soon after the concept for Longreach was developed. Winning the James Dyson Award will give me the financial support to develop a prototype and carry on testing."
The Longreach, equipped with flares for night-time illumination, was chosen by Sir James from a final shortlist of 15.
Mr Adeloju, will receive a £10,000 cash prize and his engineering faculty at the University of New South Wales will also receive £10,000.
He will also have the chance to visit Dyson's research, design and development centre.
Each year around 100 people drown in UK seas and more than 13,500 swimmers are swept out by rip rides or currents.
Kimberley Hoffman, 29, from the Academy of Art University in California, received second prize for her Seakettle, which uses natural sunlight to desalinate water in an emergency liferaft.Reuse content