Design ideas make savings

Tom Shelley reports on a few of the ideas revealed at this year's Royal College of Art summer show - from washing machines to spy cameras

Ideas to save energy, to save lives, and to save us from our enemies were all in evidence at this year's Royal College of Art summer show - which showcases word from students on the Industrial Design Engineering course. While many of the ideas looked good on paper, the ones here were demonstrated to work. Robin Chilton, Katie Goodwin and Adam Sutcliffe have developed a hand-operated concept washing machine for the Indian market - inspired by wash technology from sponsors Unilever and a bit of recycled innovation from Archimedes. The 'Revolution' consists of an inclined drum with an Archimedean screw on the inside pierced by egress holes. The clothes are put in and the technology added, after which everything is left to soak for at least seven hours. The drum is then hand spun for two minutes every half an hour for two hours. The process could easily be powered by a low energy motor. Turning a knob and pushing a button lets water in. Another turn drains the water and a further turn re-sets it. Along with no or low energy consumption, the waste water is particularly pure. Frank Wright has devised an intelligent radiant heater that locates people that need warming and orients itself in their direction. If it does not find anyone, it turns itself off. It locates people with an array of 10 directional infrared sensors normally used in security applications. A Pick chip, programmed in Basic, analyses the data and deliver instructions to the directional orienting motors. It works well with one, two or three people in the vicinity. With more people present - as at the show - it makes its best choices based on the bodies that are closest. He has given the concept the name, 'Warm Feeling'. Staying warm is one thing; staying alive is another. Four students - Graeme Davies, Phillip Greer, Christopher Hutley and Lisa Stroux - have come up with a simple device that should save lives. Its inspiration was the immediate aftermath of the events of 7/7. Their revoltingly named 'Tongue Sucker' allows an untrained person to open the airway of an unconscious person so that they do not choke. This is currently performed with a curved plastic tube, which requires the presence of a trained paramedic in order to administer it correctly. The new device, which should cost 18p to manufacture in volume production, consists of a rubber bulb and a conical tube into which the tongue can be sucked. It is patented and the developers are in discussion with manufacturers. It has already won its inventors the 2006 Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award and the Tanaka New Business Challenge Award and they expect it to become something to go in every first aid box When not working on the Revolution washing machine, Adam Sutcliffe found time to work on the 'Catchu' - a camera mounted on a Frisbee. Although conceived for sporting use, it could be of greater interest to those who need to obtain a glimpse of threats in inaccessible places. Sutcliffe said: "My passion is snow boarding but I am always the one holding the video camera." He considered cameras carried by balloons, booms or model aircraft but instead came up with the idea of throwing them. The Frisbee incorporates a fin on top, attached to a CVS disposable video camera beneath. This keeps the camera pointing backwards, despite the rotation of the Frisbee. The CVS camera can store 20 minutes of broadcast-quality video but he is now working on a new version, to be called 'Spy Catchu'. It will have a wireless camera that can broadcast to a receiver up to 120m away for up to 3 hours. Possible interested parties include the police, who might need to assess a hostage situation. Fire Brigades may also find the idea to be of interest, especially as the sale price of the 'Catchu' is likely to be about £45. At least one major mobile phone manufacturing company has also expressed an interest. Email Robin Chilton Email Adam Sutcliffe Email Frank Wright Email Katie Goodwin Jennifer Barnard Manolis Kelaidis Adam Sutcliffe and Katie Goodwin Intervent Tongue Sucker Royal College of Art