A suitcase that follows you around; a fishing net with built-in escape routes and a drone that delivers first aid are just some of the inventions shortlisted for this year’s International James Dyson Award.


More than 500 students and recent graduates entered, from 18 countries around the world. The overall winner will be announced on Thursday. The Independent on Sunday got a preview of the shortlist of 15 finalists and has chosen 10 of the best.

Sir James Dyson said: “The inventions that stand out most each year are the ones that solve big problems in the simplest ways. Last year’s winner developed a device that extracts water from air to relieve drought. It works by simply condensing water but has the potential to save lives.

“I am worried that we are focusing too much on digital technology rather than practical, tangible technology. We need hardware to export as well as software – it is profitable and exciting.”

The listening wristwatch (Singapore)

Parents with hearing problems can struggle to realise if their child requires attention. The Fil’o wristwatch connects with a baby toy that is actually a listening device. The watch lights up and vibrates if a child is shouting.

First aid by flying drone (Austria)

Bringing first aid to dangerous locations can be slow – and sometimes impossible. Smart Aid is a drone that carries a defibrillator and first-aid kit. Controlled by a smartphone, it also offers advice to those in trouble.

Humane fishing net (UK)

Smaller fish are often needlessly caught in deep-sea fishing nets that are only after much bigger ones. The Safety Net has built-in rings that give young, and unmarketable small fry escape routes lit up with LED lights.

Magic prosthesis (USA)

More than 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America require prosthetic limbs, but they can be very expensive and uncomfortable. The Beth Project is an affordable limb that self-adjusts painlessly to changes in a patient’s weight and height.

Moving light (Holland)

Ever wished your ceiling light could be right above you at exactly the right brightness? ReWired uses a pulley system synchronised with a mobile phone so you can move your light around the room.

Easy sewing machine (UK)

Many sewing machines are cumbersome, fiddly and intimidating to beginners. The Alto has been designed to make it easier for novices – speed is controlled by pressing with your fingers as you sew, and threading the needle is easy.

The friendly suitcase (Spain)

Dragging a big old suitcase around an airport is enough to give anyone backache. The Hop suitcase follows obediently behind its owner by detecting signals sent from your mobile phone, staying at a fixed distance from the traveller.

Bucketless water (USA)

Some 3.4 million people die every year as a result of unclean water. The Balde a Balde is an affordable portable tap that helps prevent contamination by avoiding the need to transfer water from bucket to bucket.

Blind play mat (Australia)

Fifty years ago more than half of blind children used Braille to read. Last year this fell to fewer than one in 10. The Reach and Match is a toy designed for blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille, introducing them to symbols.

Air fuel (Australia)

As oil becomes more scarce and global warming continues, inventors have come up with a way of replacing petrol with air. The 02 Pursuit is a motorbike that is powered by air which is compressed using solar and wind energy.

About the Award

The James Dyson 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 to be creative, challenge and invent.

The brief was simple; “Design something that solves a problem”.

Just by doing that, contestants stand the chance of winning fantastic prizes.

International Winner: – £10,000 the student or student team (of up to four members) – £10,000 for their university department – James Dyson Award trophy and Certificate

Two International Runners-up: – £2,000 each – James Dyson Award Certificate

Fifteen International Finalists: – James Dyson Award Certificate

National Winners: – £1,000 each – James Dyson Award Certificate

The James Dyson Award is open to product design, industrial design and engineering university level students (or graduates within 4 years of graduation) who have studied in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

The award is juddged in three stages before the winner is finally selected.

Stage 1: A panel of leading designers, engineers and design critics in each of the 18 participating countries shortlist the top ten entries and name the national winners.

Stage 2: A panel of Dyson design engineers scrutinise all national projects selecting the top 50.

Stage 3: An international judging panel of high-profile designers, engineers, academics and journalists pick 15 international finalists. Informed by the international judges, James Dyson will name the winner and two runners-up.

Projects like this give youths opportunity to explore their creativity since according to Alfred North Whitehead; “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.”

Also, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

The countries that are eligible to be part should regard themselves blessed for having an opportunity to let their youths pass their ideas across, improve on them and make something that solves problems.