A fast-cooling iron, an energy saving kettle and a facemask that allows scuba divers to communicate via sound waves

Issue date: 03 June 2014

UWE Bristol Environment and Technology Degree Show Thursday 5 to Saturday 7 June 2014 - R block Frenchay Campus

A fast-cooling iron designed to improve child safety, a facemask that allows scuba divers to communicate via sound waves and an intelligent kettle that learns your habits to save water and energy are three of the most exciting and innovative exhibits at this year's Environment and Technology Degree Show.

Joe Perry – Final Year Creative Product Design

Inventor and Designer – The Guardian Iron

After talking to friends who'd received burn injuries in the past, Joe Perry was motivated to design a safety focused product aimed at burns prevention. Further research showed that with skin up to fifteen times thinner than an adult and an increased curiosity in this age group, children under five years are one of the most susceptible to thermal injuries, with clothing irons being a leading source of contact burns.

Working closely in the design process with child health experts at UWE Bristol, Dr Julie Mytton and Dr Toity Deave , Joe set himself the task of developing a safer clothing iron, The Guardian Iron.

Conventional Clothing Irons can take up to 90 minutes to cool, this along with a momentary lack of close supervision forms the prominent time when burns occur. The Guardian Iron uses a “Quickcool” feature utilising new heat transfer technology to allow the sole plate to cool down from 200ºc to 49ºc in just 90 seconds.

The second feature “Chameleon Colour Change” aims to improve visual awareness to danger. Using heat sensitive ­­thermochromic ink, a specifically designed pattern appears on the sole plate of the iron when above the burn threshold of 49ºc.

This feature was designed with input from a focus group of schoolchildren and parents at St Werburghs Park Nursery School. Joe explains, “The aim of this feature is to discourage young children from wanting to touch the surface of the iron, through my research I discovered that children aren't able to recognise red or blue as danger. I wanted to see whether patterns such as those in the animal kingdom could potentially act as a more instinctive deterrent.

Working with Toity, we talked through our 12 concepts with the children and found that the one they were attracted to least was stripes. Therefore when the soleplate is hot regardless of whether it is plugged in, will remain red and striped until it is cool.”

Joe credits his placement year at design consultancy, Kinneir Dufort for developing the skills that have helped him in his final year. Joe was the first student from the course to be invited on placement working on projects across a variety of sectors. Joe says, “The placement year taught me so much and I learnt a lot from the people I worked with. I've developed a better understanding of the design process, the standard of work that's required and the speed you need to work at, all factors that have helped to improve my work in the final year.

On the course, Joe adds, “I've really enjoyed all aspects of the course. It's very satisfying to develop the idea, make it and then step back and see what you've accomplished. I definitely want to work in design consultancy as a career and hope that I'll be running my own business in five years' time.”

Ada Holmes - Final Year Product Design Technology

Inventor and Designer – 'Babble Fish'

It was Ada Holmes' passion for scuba diving that inspired her redesign of the conventional facemask. From her own experiences she discovered the difficulties in communicating underwater and further analysis showed that poor communication contributes to the 380 scuba diving accidents that are recorded each year in UK waters.

Ada set herself the challenge of improving communication underwater by analysing how humans communicate to one another in everyday situations and how these means might be replicated underwater.

Her design solution is 'Babble Fish', a face mask that contains a speaker system tailored for underwater use, allowing a diver to speak and for their voice to be transmitted to any divers in the vicinity via sound waves, meaning that no additional equipment is required to hear and understand what is being said. An additional design feature of 'Babble Fish' is that the front of the mask is open allowing other divers to read facial expressions.

One of the challenges for Ada in the design process was investigating the differences between how sound travels in air and water. Working with scuba instructors and industry experts, Ada tested the product in the swimming pool to see how effectively the speakers worked.

Talking about the product, Ada says, “The advantage of 'Babble Fish' is that communication occurs in real-time, allowing instructors to teach in situ without having to return to the surface to explain technical details. It allows divers to warn their buddies of imminent dangers and introduces a new concept of a diver acting as a 'tour guide', pointing out details relating to flora and fauna in the area to larger groups of tourists.”

'Babble Fish' has been well-received by scuba diving experts and in the future Ada plans to streamline the design of the product to create a smaller version.

When asked about her time at UWE Bristol, Ada adds, “I've really enjoyed my three years here; as well as the general environment, the course has helped me focus on the importance of inventing original products so that they improve people's lives, whilst taking into account the factors relating to the design and manufacture of those products.”

Rob Phillips - Final Year Product Design Technology

Inventor and designer - 'The Harbour Kettle'

It was Rob Phillip's enthusiasm for sustainable design that inspired him to take a fresh look at the kettle. Motivated by the fact that in the UK alone we waste £68 million of electricity on boiling more water than needed (Energy Saving Trust), and throw away the equivalent of 150 thousand double decker buses worth of electronic waste every year (Recycle-More), Rob aims to change attitudes and save energy with The Harbour Kettle.

The Harbour Kettle is an intelligent kettle that can sense how much water is used (not boiled) at different times of the day, seven days a week. After learning the users' habits it helps to boil only what is needed, saving water and energy.

The technology behind the Harbour Kettle is based on a set of digital weighing scales inside the kettle that weighs and tracks the amount of water used over seven days. Once user habits are stored the kettle will ping when the suggested level is reached, encouraging the user to only use the water required.

Inspired by his research with sustainability organisations across Bristol including The Sofa Project, Bristol Wood Project and the Bristol Repair Cafe, Rob hopes to encourage a make and mend culture with The Harbour Kettle's second key feature. Rob explains, “In the UK, a kettle is thrown away on average after only 3.5 years of use and according to the ITDG we discard over 60 million electrical items, half of these, it's estimated are still working or could be easily repaired.”

“With The Harbour Kettle, I have included an extended product life. I want to encourage people away from a throwaway society and encourage them to repair. This is easily done with The Harbour Kettle, only one fixing needs to be removed to enable users to either change the style of the kettle to match a new kitchen environment or to repair any faults that may develop, with only limited skills or prior knowledge of repair. All instructions are printed on the inside of parts to make the whole process even easier.”

Professionalism, time management and quality of work are just some of the skills that Rob developed on his placement year at Realise Design. He adds, “I thoroughly recommend the placement year and I really enjoyed the course, it has given me a great overview of design in general especially on the technical side. It's also given me a clear direction of what area of design I'd like to pursue and I look forward to working in sustainable design in the future.”

Other innovative products being exhibited at the show include:

DRYcycle by Dennis Chan – aims to improve commuters (mainly cyclists and walkers) travel experiences on a rainy day, through this intelligently controlled quick compact dryer for wet clothing designed for office use. The design principle of the DRYcycle is to force air through the drying item continuously and speed up the evaporation process. The DRYcycle only needs 10% - 40% of the conventional air-dry time to dry off clothing items from dripping water, at an average cost of 3p per cycle and minimal noise impact on the office environment.

Animates by Theo Davies - are toys like no other. A unique product range that uses modular pieces of exciting and educational themes, to create customised animated mechanisms. Animates all work using simple engineering principles to create interesting and entertaining movements, presenting the value of engineering to the child. Animates are targeted at 4–7 year olds, for use during travel (on car/train windows) as well as inside the home and other destinations. The system entertains and educates the child user, reducing boredom and the unwanted results of boredom such as driver distraction, a major cause of road accidents.

Carapace by Kyle Pritchard - is a revolution for head safety within the maritime industry. Analysing the extreme environments found in off-shore oil rigs has resulted in a truly 21st century, three pronged solution. An exceptionally comfortable long life hard hat that features an innovative, super low profile secondary protection layer that provides the freedom needed when working in tight spaces, and the world's first reliable high-tech maritime accident device that provides quick response aid after a life threatening impact or fall.

HotPot by Calum Wilson is a compact and versatile outdoor stove made from upcycled and recyclable materials, dedicated to helping people sleeping rough in the UK.

Boredom is a major stress for homeless people. The provision of facilities within local charitable projects to engage rough sleepers in the personalisation of parts for their very own HotPot is key to this product. This process is designed to provide a safe, warm place where people can come together with support workers, to escape the boredom of the streets, to learn new skills, build relationships, and gain confidence.

Plume by David Aitken - provides the user with complete control over the temperature and air flow within their localised sleeping micro-climate. By circulating fresh air into the bed, Plume helps the user feel revitalised throughout the night and helps eliminate stale air trapped beneath the covers.

A minimalist control dock allows the user to regulate temperature through the twist and tap of the device. This interaction is communicated through a sleek exterior and subtle lighting effects. The unique form of the comforter allows it to be wrapped around the user, hugged or even laid on like a pillow. Try the plume now, and enjoy sleep on perfectly controlled currents of air.

The annual 'Environment and Technology Degree Show' includes final year work and exhibits from students studying across a vast range of programmes including Architecture and the Built Environment,Computer Science and Creative Technologies, Engineering Design and Mathematics, Geography and Environmental Management.

This celebratory event gives students the opportunity to discuss their work with others, including their peers, families, potential employers or even future business partners.

On the opening night, Thursday 5 June, Andrew Mulvenna, co-founder of Brightpearl, will be the guest speaker at the event. Andrew holds a BSc in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence and started Brightpearl with his friend Chris Tanner when they were running a long-skateboard business.

For further details please visit the UWE Bristol event pages and to view a selection of images from the featured students please visit the UWE Bristol News flickr pages.

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