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Meet the James Dyson Award 2022 Southeast Asia Winners

Learn about the game-changing inventions from some of the region’s brightest young design engineers and inventors

07 September 2022

The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. Each year, we challenge students and recent graduates from across 29 countries to design something that solves a problem, and create the next innovative and ingenious invention to be awarded £30,000.

This year, hundreds of young inventors and design engineers across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines developed ingenious solutions to problems in areas spanning sustainability, health, lifestyle, technology and beyond.

Following intensive rounds of judging in July, twelve entries emerged at the top. These entries will proceed on to the international phase of the competition. The International Top 20 shortlist will be revealed on 12 October 2022, and the International and Sustainability Winners will be announced on 16 November 2022.

National Winner – Singapore: Rehabit

  • Problem: Strokes are the fourth-most common cause of death in Singapore - reports show that the number of stroke cases have doubled to 8,849 from 2010 to 2019. While following his father’s stroke rehabilitation journey, John Tay noticed that therapy centres did not have proper rehabilitation equipment, relying on makeshift methods such as towels and plastic bags. Because these materials do not work well in guiding the patient’s movement, a caretaker has to be present to facilitate the exercise.

    Solution: Rehabit is a series of intuitive rehabilitation equipment for stroke recovery - helping stroke patients to relearn, regain and recover their mobility. It allows patients to exercise independently with movement guidance without the need to rely on a caretaker support. The invention guides patients to execute movement correctly and safely while keeping the exercises engaging and fun, increasing the chances of a successful recovery. Rehabit consists of four products, which focus on upper-limb rehabilitation including:

    • Shoulder inner and outer rotation
    • Forearm pronation and supination
    • Wrist flexion and extension
    • Finger extension

    John Tay, inventor of Rehabit, said, “My father suffered a stroke and I saw the struggles and frustrations he faced when therapy centres did not have proper equipment and instead relied on makeshift methods such as towels and plastic bags during treatment. This motivated me to invent Rehabit to help patients like my father gain a higher chance of recovery during their rehabilitation. By joining the James Dyson Award, I hope to raise more awareness around stroke recovery and help more patients, like my father, through Rehabit.”

Runner-Up - Singapore: Rollerball Itch Relief

  • Problem: Eczema is a skin condition whereby parts of the skin become inflamed resulting in itchy, rough and cracked skin. Known as a global epidemic, eczema affects both children and adults. Itchiness is one of the major symptoms and aggravates the condition.

    Solution: Rollerball Itch Reliever is designed to help eczema patients cope with their unbearable itch. This textured rollerball provides a sensation similar to scratching but ensures that there is no drag on the skin which will damage it like scratching.

Runner-Up - Singapore: Vertical Farming - Reinvented for Urban Cities

  • Problem: Food security was a major concern during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for Singapore as a small island with limited agricultural land. Based on a 2020 report, Singapore imports close to 453,000 tonnes of vegetables every year and are only producing less than 10% of food consumed.

    Solution: Vertical Farming is an automated farming system mounted on building exteriors enabling anyone to grow their own produce at home. The design allows a nutrient solution to pass through vertical conduits to the growing produce. The conduits are lightweight and modular which allow them to be easily mounted or detached from the system during harvest.

National Winner - Malaysia: MA-Pencil

  • Problem: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that affects 1 in 100 children globally. While gripping a pencil might seem like an easy task to many, it can be a challenging task for autistic children and can greatly impact their confidence.

    Solution: MA-Pencil is a multifunctional pencil set to guide children with autism to write independently through different stages. Coupled with interesting mammal inspired design, audio output and break resistance lead, MA-Pencil helps autistic children write independently through the following stages:

    • Beginner stage: This stage supports children’s finger placement when holding a pencil. Intentionally designed to have a curved surface, textured lines and circles the design will guide its users toward the first stage of pencil gripping. The thicker colourful pencil lead is less likely to break.
    • Adapting stage: Once users are used to the gripping stance the gripper can be turned clockwise 180 degrees to support the fingers while establishing the correct way to hold the pencil.
    • Mature stage: The gripper attachment can be removed and MA pencil can be used like a regular pencil.

    Inventor of MA-Pencil, Le Qi said, “Everyone is different. Our needs, personalities, culture, language, age, and so on. I think the existence of inclusive design is necessary to create a better and more comfortable life for all.”

Runner-Up - Malaysia: Whalecro

  • Problem: Microplastic pollution in the ocean is a growing problem with their widespread presence becoming more apparent by the day. Research shows that there are now trillions of microplastic particles in the marine environment. And it is estimated that we consume more than 100 microplastic particles per meal.

    Solution: Whalecro is an underwater propulsion vehicle. Surrounding microplastics are pulled into the vehicle through a series of motor-powered filters. The filter is made of a Velcro strap – a commonly used material with a hook-like surface. This hook-like surface will cause microplastics to latch onto it, trapping them in the process.

Runner-Up - Malaysia: SwiSH

  • Problem: A car jack is an essential item in every vehicle in case of tyre puncture. However, car jacks are not user- friendly as they are challenging to manoeuvre and can be unstable on uneven surfaces.

    Solution: SWISH introduces a new method to hoist up a car that is more user friendly. Comprising of three concentric cylindrical components: the outmost housing ,the intermediate and the central, the mechanism applies a telescopic concept to allow users to hoist a car without exerting additional force. The cylindrical shape of SwiSH also provides a much bigger surface area making it more stable and safer when in use.

National Winner - Philippines: BRAKONG

  • Problem: The Philippines has the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia, and the ninth highest in the world. In 2020 alone, there were 86,484 new cases of breast cancer among women in the Philippines. Removal of the breast by mastectomy has proven to cause psychological impact on patients, including emotional distress, social inhibition, and reduced self-esteem.

    Solution: Brakong is a lightweight external breast prosthesis made from an aquatic plant called ‘bakong’ which grows perennially in the northern region of the Philippines. The plant’s antimicrobial properties ensure that the prosthesis stays clean in the chest area. With the use of 3D scanning technology, Brakong can be customized to the breast cancer’s body measurements. The year-long availability and affordability of the raw materials also motivated the two engineers to consider design circularity, given that Brakong is an invention that can be recycled infinitely.

    The students behind Brakong said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally. The Philippines has the highest incident of this cancer in Asia. The people we talked to stated they felt diminished as a woman and abnormal. Hearing and reading about their personal stories is what struck us to advance our understanding and do more research. We addressed the problem with circularity in mind, and developed Brakong, made from bakong.”

Runner-Up - Philippines: Noah

  • Problem: The Philippines has over 20 typhoons per year - five of which have the potential to be destructive. Flooding has become the most frequent and widespread natural disaster in many cities across the country and drowning accounts for 75% of deaths in flood disasters.

    Solution: Aleksander Wieneke from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde invented Noah, an indoor chair that can transform into an emergency life raft in the event of a flood.

Runner-Up - Philippines: Float-E

  • Problem: Large-scale oil spills can lead to devastating results causing both environmental and economic damages that can take several years to recover from.

    Solution: Students from De La Salle University - Manila developed an efficient way to minimize health threats by developing Float-E, a semi-autonomous robot that diminishes oil spill problems. The invention uses computer vision to locate and collect the spills.

National Winner - Thailand: KamilO

  • Problem: The dairy industry is growing with a significant increase in demand for the past 30 years and is set to be a 1.2k billion U.S dollar market by 2026. In Thailand, one of the major obstacles is farmers' inability to accurately detect estrus conditions, resulting in insemination failure. This error is estimated to cost the Thailand dairy industry ฿266,311,500 per 21 days of the estrus cycle.

    Solution: The first Thailand national James Dyson Award winner aims to reduce human error in estrus cycle detection by leveraging IoT-based solutions to increase the chances of accurate artificial insemination of dairy cows, leading to an increased production of milk. KomilO is a system that consists of two sensors attached to the ears and base of the tail of dairy cows to detect the movement. By tracking this behaviour the system can predict estrus conditions using machine learning techniques. For an easy user experience the system is paired with a web application which will support tracking of the cows’ data, managing the sensors, as well as notifying farmers of the optimal time for artificial insemination.

    The team of six electrical engineering and digital students from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonbury said:“It started out of curiosity but turned into something so much bigger when we entered and won the James Dyson Award in Thailand. This has given us the boost of confidence we needed to pursue the project and successfully help the local farming scene.

Runner-Up - Thailand: The Amazing Hearing Devices or AHDs

  • Problem: There were 1.5 billion hearing loss patients in 2021 globally, and the figure is predicted to rise to 2.5 billion by 2030 according to WHO (2021). The existing gap in the current availability of hearing aids is the lack of universally-designed elements. One of the examples include incompatibility with glasses, weight bearing ability and non-invasive options.

    Solution: The AHDs is a bone conduction hearing aid that aims to be more accessible. The device offers a more comfortable and user-friendly experience which does not require an implant. The AHDs also comes with an optional headband attachment that is recommended during exercise.

Runner-Up - Thailand: Aeolus

  • Problem: Research suggests that 17% of the world’s population suffers from insomnia due to unsuitable pillows. On top of the lack of quality sleep, this can lead to more serious health problems such as chronic cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney disease and stroke for example. While no human bodies are the same, the pillows available in today’s market are rarely customisable to meet individual needs.

    Solution: Aeolus is an application-based personalised pillow that can be adjusted to suit every body so users can achieve a better quality of life. The design incorporates a pressure mapping system to collect data for sleep postures and quality analytics through an AI-embedded application. The analysis will then provide insight to users to make an informed decision to best customise their pillow. To customise the pillow users can find a sleeping report in the application and customise the pillow shape for best comfort. Powered by an air control system, which includes the air pump and a processing unit, users can adjust the height of each air cushion block in the pillow until the heightreaches the recommended level for a night of comfortable sleep that will have long-lasting benefits to the body.

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