Macaron wins James Dyson Australian award, will now compete with the world

The James Dyson Award recognises engineers across the globe who create designs to solve worldwide problems. This year’s Australian winner is Macaron, a smart tape measuring device to help...

The James Dyson Award recognises engineers across the globe who create designs to solve worldwide problems. This year’s Australian winner is Macaron, a smart tape measuring device to help the visually impaired.

There are approximately 285 million visually impaired people around the world who can often face challenges with everyday tasks. This year’s Australian national James Dyson Award winner attempts to solve this problem with Macaron, a smart tape measuring device that intuitively measures and records distance to help the visually impaired.

There are approximately 285 million visually impaired people around the world who can often face challenges with everyday tasks. This year’s Australian national James Dyson Award winner attempts to solve this problem with Macaron, a smart tape measuring device that intuitively measures and records distance to help the visually impaired.

Designed and created by four Queensland University of Technology students Jake Dean, Yuma Decaux, Woo Sung Jung and Weng Hou Chan, the team of four will win £2,000 (over A$,3500) for their design project.

Their inspiration came from a member of the team who is blind and unable to renovate his house due to experiencing difficulties seeing the markings on a tape measure. The device is able to take measurement without needing to read the markings, but also connects via Bluetooth to a mobile device. The app can be used to pre-set the object and distances to be measured. Voice input is also available for the setup and all can be saved to the phone app with the press of a button.

The team hopes that one day the universal design of Macaron will benefit everyone with some form of disability, not just the blind.

“People with little to no vision need to rely heavily on specialised measuring devices, but we hope that Macaron will become the common and everyday household product that leads to a new way of measuring, recording and thinking. Our team is so excited to be recognised with this year’s James Dyson Award and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the device.”

Jake Dean from the Macaron team

This year, the three Australian judges, Tech Editor Trevor Long, Code Like a Girl Founder, Ally Watson and QUT professor Sue Keay, reviewed over 25 entries across the country before selecting the coveted title for the Australian winner, followed by two runner ups.

The Macaron design will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award with the hope to commercialise the product and win up to £30,000 (over A$54,000) along with two Australian runners-up including H2 Snow (Tim Lutton from RMIT University) and Indra Mosquito Zapper (Paul Eterovich from Swinburne University of Technology.

H2 Snow is the world’s first alpine survival tool that converts snow into drinking water by human power. Inspiration to create the product came from designer Paul Eterovich, whose friend was stranded for two days in the snow without water. Snow shouldn’t be consumed without melting it first because it can cause dehydration and hypothermia. The H2 Snow is a one litre drink bottle which melts snow by creating heat through friction and pulverising the snow through a spinning blade.

The Indra Mosquita Zapper is an insect control device made from recycled materials. Inspiration for the design came from Misquito borne diseases, which are a major public health problem in India, particularly to street vendors. Powered by renewable energy such as wind and solar, the device creates electricity to zapp and kill mosquitoes. Once fully charged, the stored electricity also creates light and via its USB port, power for a number of everyday uses.

The competition is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability. This year Mexico, the UAE, Sweden and the Philippines, have joined the global contest. With students from 27 nations now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global issues than ever before.

Since the competition first opened fourteen years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1m to championing boundary-breaking concepts. Unlike other competitions, participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property.

The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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