UWE graduate shortlisted for Dyson Design prize

Issue date: 23 September 2011

A Product Design graduate from the University of the West of England has been shortlisted for the national UK heat of the James Dyson Award. This prestigious award is an international student design award running in 18 countries. It's run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson's charitable trust, as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers.

UWE graduate Will Drake has designed a hand massage machine aimed at helping to improve the quality of life for people who suffer from arthritis.

The design brief was quite simply to 'design something that solves a problem.' Will's entry was the hand massager that he created for his final year graduation project, which earned him a first class honours degree from UWE earlier this year. He conducted research at the Bath Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases where he met with health practitioners and patients to help inform his design.

Will says he's really excited to reach the shortlist stage in such a hard fought competition, “I'm delighted to have reached this stage of the award. As a designer it is so nice to have recognition for all those late nights in the studios. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the final results, but I'm not holding my breath, it was just nice to have caught the judges' eyes.

“The Tutors have been brilliant and it's a testament to the standard of teaching I have received from the UWE Product Design Department. I would not have achieved it without the help of Drew Batchelor, Kurt Gauss and all the other lecturers and technicians who helped in my final year, and not to forget the fantastic team at the Mineral Hospital, Bath. The next and most important step for me now is to try and get the concept to market and that will be the real challenge.”

Will describes his design, “A friend's father has Rheumatoid Arthritis and I was shocked to discover that everyday tasks that we all take for granted were so difficult for him. I discovered that one of the most difficult times in the day for people with acute arthritis is first thing in the morning. At this time joints are particularly stiff and many people say that this is the worst time of day when they suffer the most pain in their joints.

“My hand massage device utilizes airbags and infra red heat to soothe aches and pains. The unit mimics the Paraffin wax bath treatment used in hospitals that inspired this idea, and adds a massage element to the treatment, that also aids movement.

“Creating compression and massage are both beneficial for arthritis. The air is pumped into a manifold; each chamber has a solenoid valve and pressure sensor which are controlled by code which opens each one in a desired order to create the massage effect. The unit also utilizes an infrared heat pad to give deep penetrative heat into the joints to aid movement.

“When researching the project I found that most disabled products are ugly, stigmatizing and very undesirable products. So I decided that I wanted to target both of these problems and make getting up in the morning a more enjoyable experience and making the product I designed desirable, a product the user was not ashamed to have in their home and one they looked forward to using.

“I went to the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, they helped through the whole process, as well as validating the product. They uncovered a number of insights which influenced the final function of the product, such as the movement and direction of the massage. The massage had to be directed towards the heat to reduce inflammation.”

Andrew Batchelor, Senior Lecturer in Product Design at UWE says everyone on the teaching team at UWE is delighted for Will, “This is a fantastic achievement, a real recognition of all the hard work and dedication Will has put into his studies over the last three years. Will is down to one of eight UK finalists which is the best UWE has ever done in this competition, we're all hoping he will go on to win!”


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