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Robot lifeguard wins 15th International BraunPrize - full details of finalists

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September 18, 2005

Robot lifeguard wins 15th International BraunPrize - full details of finalists

Robot lifeguard wins 15th International BraunPrize - full details of finalists

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September 19, 2005 The BraunPrize for 2005 has been awarded to Jens Andersson from Sweden for his design “Rescue Buoy” - a swimming robot in the form of a lifebuoy. The other four International BraunPrize finalists were Australian Greg Scott’s ingenious Yolk headgear for skiers and snowboarders, Canadian Lynn Borneman Animal Factor which monitors the health of a horse during strenuous activity, Chinese Wa Yao’s Mesh Editor, a mobile space-planning tool to facilitate the rapid creation of light and safe large-span structures and Brazilian Adriano Galvao’s Easy-XM which simplifies and reduces the amount of time required to take blood from patients.

Awarded every second year in the area of Technical Design, this year marks the 15th BraunPrize since Erwin Braun launched the “Braun Prize for Technical Design” in 1968 to stimulate public debate about design. The event has been held every other year since. The international design competition was created not only to encourage young talented designers by promoting their work, but also to give the public an insight into the criteria which constitutes good design.

Rescue Buoy concept

Rescue Buoy is a swimming robot in the form of a lifebuoy. It assists lifeguards by monitoring a stretch of water in order to identify potential rescue situations early on.

How it works: Lifeguards are able to spot when someone is in trouble from the shore, but once they are in the water often have difficulty finding the right location. The lifebuoy solves this problem by capturing the situation and contacting the lifeguard on the shore, enabling him to plan an appropriate course of action. If necessary, it will swim to the relevant spot and serve as a buoyancy aid until further help arrives. The buoy is designed to be used as part of a team of buoys covering a whole beach, each one monitoring a 150-metre section. In addition to danger from drowning, the buoy also helps protect beach users from coastal winds and shark attacks.

The benefits: The lifebuoy represents a new phase in robot applications: it locates the danger, clarifies the situation and solves the problem at hand, thereby saving human life.

What the jury said: The Jury sees this project as belonging to a very interesting category of lifesaving systems based on robot technology. Numerous projects are currently underway within the field of robot development, but lifesaving robots are still rather unusual and naturally have a particularly high social value. "Rescue Buoy" is a swimming robot designed to monitor the beach and locate and rescue a drowning person under the direction of the lifeguard.

A few challenges clearly remain: the minimum depth requirement, which prevents use of the robot in shallow water; the wash generated by the robot’s drive mechanism as it heads towards a person in danger and the energy issue. Ultimately, there are still issues to be tackled before the project can become a product.

Yolk protective headgear concept

Yolk is a design of protective headgear that completely transforms attitudes of its specific user group towards safety equipment. For additional information on Yolk and Greg Scott, see our original article on the concept.

How it works: Under normal conditions, Yolk is semi-rigid and pleasant to wear. In the event of a collision, however, it immediately transforms into a rigid shell that absorbs and distributes the force of the impact. This is achieved by means of a lining filled with tiny polypropylene pellets and a Kevlar fabric covering impregnated with a coagulating liquid. The lining can be equipped with a choice of different coverings to suit the personal taste of the wearer. Yolk thus straddles the boundary between safety and fashion. This protective headgear also offers integrated headphones to which a two-way radio, CD player or mobile phone can be connected.

The benefits: Yolk addresses the physical, psychological and social problems experienced by young skiers and snowboarders when wearing protective headgear. This product is designed to reduce the number of young adults who choose not to wear a helmet for reasons of comfort, convenience or appearance.

What the jury said: The Jury chose this project because it tackles an important snowboarding issue. The target group is unique in terms of its specific needs and wishes. Many of its members prefer to risk injury than to wear a safety helmet. This new product is a very attractive example of “fashion meets function”. Important aspects of the product are the clever way it integrates technology and innovation and its use of a gel-like material whose properties change upon impact. The way the helmet fastens to the head could be developed further.

The “Animal Factor – Echo Equine” Concept

This design tackles the problem of respiratory disease in horses and aims to prevent them by monitoring the health of the horse during activity.

How it works: It deals specifically with the most common medical problem encountered in racehorses: E.I.P.H. (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhaging). As this respiratory disorder is triggered by strenuous physical activity, the product has been specially designed to be used during physical movement. This diagnostic tool monitors respiratory pressure, temperature, pulse, nasal sound and acceleration. It also records training on a day-by-day basis in order to ensure constant communication between horse, jockey and vet, thereby guaranteeing the good health of the horse.

The benefits: Thanks to the particular design of the product - orientated more towards the needs of the animal than towards those of their human minders - the horse becomes a kind of partner.

What the jury said: This project is innovative in terms of the relationship between man and beast. It represents a new means of collecting information and assessing a horse’s psychological parameters. The device could also be applied to other animals. The overall concept and the project’s numerous scientific tests were clearly presented. This is a soundly based new design concept. However, a degree of further detailed work is needed on the practical aspects of the product’s interface.

Mesh Editor 2D to 3D concept

Mesh Editor clearly shows that it is possible for a design to achieve more than is envisaged by its “original plan” alone. Mesh Editor is a mobile space-planning tool that facilitates the rapid creation of light and safe large-span structures.

How it works: The size of the room designed using Mesh Editor is determined by the number of triangular repeats it contains. Mesh Editor can be used to produce either long, corridor-like or hemispherical structures. The shape of the structure can be altered by loosening or tightening the cables on its frame. As the shape of a structure is variable, it can be used for a wide range of applications – sporting events, concerts and external events as well as for fixed shelter and as a general covered space. Its applications are endless once users discover and apply its wide range of possibilities.

The benefits: Mesh Editor‘s properties illustrate that the product should be seen not simply as industrial design, but also as a form of experimental architecture.

What the jury said: This is an architectonic concept with many different possible applications. It can be seen as an example of industrial design of architectonic scope. The ability to rapidly alter the shape and size of a resulting space is fascinating. The concept, whose structure resembles that of a living organism, is astonishing.

Mechanisms and application both require further development.

Easy-XM concept

Easy-XM is a hand-held device that simplifies the selection, attachment and handling of glass cannulae when taking blood samples.

How it works: Taking blood plays an extremely important role in the process of assessing human health. Easy-XM can replace traditional blood sample containers made up of more than one small bottle. The tool consists of a number of bottles connected to a single main tube. The blood sample is controlled by activating a switch that directs the blood sample into the intended bottle without the procedure having to be interrupted. The key purpose of this device is to simplify the process of taking blood for nurses: a) through simple handling of the bottles, b) by eliminating the need to use bottles in a particular order and c) by preventing a patient’s veins from collapsing. Easy-XM not only increases the precision of blood tests, it also improves the efficiency of the medical staff and reduces the overall potential for error.

The benefits: By comparison with other methods of taking blood, Easy-XM can reduce the amount of time required by half.

What the jury said: This device represents an innovative method for taking blood that both simplifies and improves the work of the doctor. Patient discomfort is reduced thanks to the pre-loading of up to four vacuum bottles into the device. Easy-XM represents not only a functional improvement, but a psychological one too as the patient is given the impression that the whole procedure is being carried out more quickly and efficiently. The precision standards of the slide valve require further development.

The BraunPrize

In addition to the five finalists’ projects, the BraunPrize exhibition will also feature an exhibition of other designs. Nineteen projects from the second round of judging will also be on display and for the first time this year, the exhibition will also include eleven designs in a photo exhibition. These designs did not make it through to the second round, nevertheless stood out to the jury as worthy of inclusion due to their creative approach.

2005 is a special year for Braun, with the company also celebrating 50 Years of Design Innovation. Braun is commemorating the origins of the “new” Braun Design showcased at the 1955 Düsseldorf Broadcast Exhibition, which established Braun as the leading Design Company it still is today.

The International BraunPrize allows young designers to develop their skills and identity by giving a reasonably open brief. Entrants are asked to submit product designs, in the form of design sketches, technical drawings and project descriptions. These are designs that will make people’s lives easier at home, work, school, during sports and leisure activities or in the context of health and healthcare.

The 15th International BraunPrize complements Braun’s year-long series of international events to celebrate 50 years of design innovation. The year-long celebration reflects the company’s far-reaching influence on product design since its iconography and philosophy was first recognised at the 1955 Düsseldorf Broadcast Exhibition where the entire new range of Braun radios and phonographs was showcased for the first time.

Braun President Eric Armour says that “2005 is special year for Braun when we are celebrating 50 years at the forefront of industrial design. The passion and commitment which has driven our designers to create innovative products over the years is still as strong and will be seen in the next generation of Braun.”

Upcoming highlights in Braun’s international year-long series of international events include the exhibition “Braun - 50 Years Design Innovation” showing in the Axis Gallery in Tokyo, Japan (22 Sept – 16 Oct 2005) and the Mass College of Art in Boston, United States (30 Nov 2005 – 14 Jan 2006).

This year saw a record number of entrants with 684 people entering the International BraunPrize from 50 countries – a new record in the history of the BraunPrize. The 70 entrants whose projects successfully made it into the second jury round in June were then asked to submit design models of their designs. The jury assessed the projects against the following criteria:

    Design – what are the key qualities and points of difference? Technology – how convincingly does the design fulfil the product function? Practical usability – what benefits will it provide for the end user? How high is the overall standard of the work and how clear is the presentation? Is the project based on a thorough analysis of the requirements? How realistic is the solution that has been adopted? Is it environmentally compatible?

The winner of the 15th International BraunPrize, Jens Andersson was presented with a choice between an internship at Braun’s design department for 6 months or a prize fund of 12,000 Euros. The runners-up each received 4,500 Euros.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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