Tomorrow's world! The best new inventions
Forget digital technology – James Dyson thinks we should focus more on hardware
Sunday 04 November 2012
A suitcase that follows you around; a fishing net with built-in escape routes and a drone that delivers first aid are just some of the inventions shortlisted for this year's International James Dyson Award.
More than 500 students and recent graduates entered, from 18 countries around the world. The overall winner will be announced on Thursday. The Independent on Sunday got a preview of the shortlist of 15 finalists and has chosen 10 of the best.
Sir James Dyson said: "The inventions that stand out most each year are the ones that solve big problems in the simplest ways. Last year's winner developed a device that extracts water from air to relieve drought. It works by simply condensing water but has the potential to save lives.
"I am worried that we are focusing too much on digital technology rather than practical, tangible technology. We need hardware to export as well as software – it is profitable and exciting."
The listening wristwatch (Singapore)
Parents with hearing problems can struggle to realise if their child requires attention. The Fil'o wristwatch connects with a baby toy that is actually a listening device. The watch lights up and vibrates if a child is shouting.
First aid by flying drone (Austria)
Bringing first aid to dangerous locations can be slow – and sometimes impossible. Smart Aid is a drone that carries a defibrillator and first-aid kit. Controlled by a smartphone, it also offers advice to those in trouble.
Humane fishing net (UK)
Smaller fish are often needlessly caught in deep-sea fishing nets that are only after much bigger ones. The Safety Net has built-in rings that give young, and unmarketable small fry escape routes lit up with LED lights.
Magic prosthesis (USA)
More than 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America require prosthetic limbs, but they can be very expensive and uncomfortable. The Beth Project is an affordable limb that self-adjusts painlessly to changes in a patient's weight and height.
Moving light (Holland)
Ever wished your ceiling light could be right above you at exactly the right brightness? ReWired uses a pulley system synchronised with a mobile phone so you can move your light around the room.
Easy sewing machine (UK)
Many sewing machines are cumbersome, fiddly and intimidating to beginners. The Alto has been designed to make it easier for novices – speed is controlled by pressing with your fingers as you sew, and threading the needle is easy.
The friendly suitcase (Spain)
Dragging a big old suitcase around an airport is enough to give anyone backache. The Hop suitcase follows obediently behind its owner by detecting signals sent from your mobile phone, staying at a fixed distance from the traveller.
Bucketless water (USA)
Some 3.4 million people die every year as a result of unclean water. The Balde a Balde is an affordable portable tap that helps prevent contamination by avoiding the need to transfer water from bucket to bucket.
Blind play mat (Australia)
Fifty years ago more than half of blind children used Braille to read. Last year this fell to fewer than one in 10. The Reach and Match is a toy designed for blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille, introducing them to symbols.
Air fuel (Australia)
As oil becomes more scarce and global warming continues, inventors have come up with a way of replacing petrol with air. The 02 Pursuit is a motorbike that is powered by air which is compressed using solar and wind energy.
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