Gen-I: intelligent science in practical reality
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Here at Springwise, we always keep our eyes peeled for the innovations that change the way we live our lives. Often at the forefront of such discovery, students have led the way, finding ways to cut down waiting times in bars or prevent ticket-counterfeiting. On a global scale, young innovators have been seen to tackle larger issues, such as integration for asylum seekers and the issues of single-use plastic.
Clearly then, anyone wishing to stay up to date with innovation should take note of the student generation. Some might argue that everything we need has already been invented; the students of the Royal College of Arts (RCA) and Imperial College London think differently. We visited the exhibition of their work for the masters programs in either Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) or Global Innovation Design (GID), run jointly by both colleges, to scout out the ones to watch in our rapidly developing world.
The exhibition showcased innovations and creations ranging from the artistic to the futuristic. A clean energy system sat opposite a tray of sweets designed to help dementia patients stay hydrated. Nearby visitors were able to try out a program to find out what countries they can emigrate to.
Overwhelmingly though, a preoccupation with the health industry stood out. Yikun Wang’s Interflex aims to help users maintain good posture throughout the day, especially targeting those with desk roles who spend much of their time sitting at a desk. With stretchable sensors and an accelerometer, the smart bra monitors the wearer’s posture and indicates posture improvements through vibrations. Wang is also currently working on adapting the product into a tight-fitting T-shirt for male users.
As a society we are becoming increasingly aware of the equal importance of both physical and mental health. Myrra reflects this growing awareness of the need to take care of our minds. Creator Jacob Jelen noted that most people give more attention to their teeth than to their mind, and so designed a smart mirror that keeps an eye on your mood. Myrra aims to help users live happier and more productive lives. It uses a database of psychological knowledge and self-improvement techniques to readjust negative thinking and boost moods. It matches its user through intuitive technology, getting to know its owner through conversation, without taking time out of their day.
The health of the individual is, however, not the only consideration addressed within this exhibition. Melisa Lenero tackles the health of society as a whole through her creation, Hu-mind. Based on discovery of links between brainwaves and our unconscious biases, Hu-mind is a collection of tools that alert you when your bias comes into play. It enables users to think in a more informed way. By breaking down the unconscious preferences that so often govern our behaviours, Hu-mind seeks to grant us more control over our own reasoning.
Whilst innovation is always thinking about the next step forward for mankind, some at this exhibition have gone several steps into our future. Jun Kamei saw the need for further human adaptability to survive in our rapidly changing climate. Sea levels are rising, and cities such as Shanghai, Rio and Miami are predicted to be underwater by 2100. Designed for a future where people spend as much time in the water as on land, Amphibio is a 3D-printed amphibious garment, much like a gill. It enables the user to breathe underwater. Such a world may seem far away, but is becoming an increasingly likely reality and innovators like Kamei stand ready to take it on.
Another innovation truly does bring what seems like the fantasy of a Hollywood producer into real-life. Carolyn Tam was awarded the KI Award for her TechniChrome, a display that simultaneously makes digital screens obsolete and omnipresent. Using a combination of pixel paint and paintable wire, users can create a digital display on any surface. Anyone can access digital screens with the ease of a paintbrush. By leaving the boundaries of traditional screens behind, the future possibilities of TechniChrome are vast, yet certainly well-suited to an increasingly technological world.
Whether designed to alleviate current problems or to preempt a future challenge, the students at the exhibition demonstrated the keen ability to match intelligent science to practical products – a winning combination in innovation. The designers named here are certainly ones to watch, and their innovations showcased at this exhibition prove that there is still plenty more room for innovation in our ever-evolving society.
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