When it opened for entries in February
of this year, the Electrolux Design Lab competition challenged students from around the world to come up with innovative appliance concepts for the homes of the future. "Creating Healthy Homes" was the theme and after previously announcing the 35 semi-finalists
, the organizers have now whittled over 1,700 entrants down to six finalists, who will look to wow a jury with their designs in France next month.
Backpacks are certainly a convenient way of schlepping your stuff around, but they do have at least one shortcoming – you have to take them off to get at what's in them. British engineer David Wolffe set out to address that, with his wolffepack. It features a tethered detachable cargo section, that can be swung around in front of the wearer as needed.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing are constantly met with the challenge of communicating, since most non-deaf people don't understand sign language. But modern technology is once again offering new solutions for old issues, and this time it comes in the shape of Uni, which uses motion gesture recognition to translate sign language to audio, and spoken word to text, in real time.
With their GPS capabilities and navigation apps, smartphones have undoubtedly made it easier for us to find our way around. The good news is we are starting to see these benefits extended to the visually impaired. SightCompass is a system that harnesses these strengths of the smartphone and combines them with proximity beacons to inform blind people of their surroundings.
We've certainly seen portable washing machines before here at Gizmag, although they've tended to be quite small
. There are
higher-capacity electric models, which are more like their full-sized counterparts. The Venus, however, takes yet another approach. It's an electric agitator, that goes into a bucket supplied by the user.
People certainly haven't been afraid to try and reinvent the umbrella over the years. There was the solar-powered Booster Brolly
, the windproof Rainshader
and the lopsided Rain Shield
, just to name a few. But now a team of Chinese designers is looking to do away with the awkward metal poles and canopy entirely, relying instead on a "force field" of air to keep you nice and dry.
The tying and untying of your shoelaces may not be way up there on your list of everyday hassles, but hey – if you can get around doing it, why not? That's the idea behind Zubits. They're magnetized shoe closures, that take the place of bows.
The ability to fold a reasonably functional paper airplane isn't something that everyone possesses. If you're one of those people, then perhaps this is what you need – a device that takes multiple flat pieces of ordinary paper, folds each one into an airplane, then shoots it into the air.
A "magic" marker pen developed at the University of Leicester enables forensic experts, police and criminal investigators to quickly determine whether a receipt potentially containing fingerprint deposits is made of thermal paper, with another device then used to reveal the presence of any fingerprints. The devices come thanks to the work of the suitably-named Dr Bond, John Bond, from the University's Department of Criminology.
Just over three years ago, a UK company looking to harvest the kinetic energy of pedestrians received its very installation order
. Since then we've seen Pavegen's tiles turn to the crowd
for school installs and being laid at the Paris Marathon
. Now the firm has partnered with Shell for its biggest undertaken so far – to give a run-down community soccer field in a Rio de Janeiro favela an off-grid power supply which benefits the whole community.