Life-enhancing innovations to help people with visual impairments to navigate the internet, wheelchair users to negotiate the urban environment, autistic children to communicate and diabetics to manage their condition, were among the award-winning projects created by graduating Masters students at the Royal College of Art in the Helen Hamlyn Design Awards 2011.
The Helen Hamlyn Design Awards, organised by the RCA's Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, recognise outstanding graduating student projects that are based on user research and address a genuine social need. "These awards demonstrate how young designers across a wide range of disciplines can put social activism and good citizenship at the centre of their work," commented Dr Paul Thompson, RCA Rector.
The four main award categories were sponsored by Age UK, Technology Strategy Board, Clearblue and GMW Architects. Representatives from each organisation presented the awards totalling £10,000, at a ceremony during Innovation Night at the RCA graduate show.
Helen Hamlyn, founder of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which has endowed the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA, gave her own personal award to a project which redesigned the traditional black medical bag used by nurses on home visits.
There was also a special award for alumni of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, given this year to industrial designers Edward Goodwin and Richard Hartshorn for their work in keyhole and robotic sugary.
Age UK Award for Inclusive Design
Joint Winner: Patrick Hyland - Innovation Design Engineering
Synergise - a hand-operated mechanical system that allows wheelchair users to negotiate angled and cambered surfaces (which adversely affect wheelchair propulsion) with greater ease and control. Synergise uses a simple ratchet system and can be retrofitted inexpensively to many existing wheelchairs.
Joint Winner: Samuel Jewell - Innovation Design Engineering
AudioWeb - Online we exploit colour, images, video and animations to communicate, often excluding people with low vision. Instead they are limited to a single voice reading the page from top to bottom. AudioWeb uses different voices and sound effects to make their experience of the internet as easy, fun and meaningful as it is for the fully sighted.
Technology Strategy Board Award for Independent Living
Winner: Lingjing Yin - Design Products
Touch*Play - Research into Autism
This project explores how technology could be used to enable children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions to play, explore and express their emotions and feelings. Touch*Play is a device that can record sound by pushing a button. The only way to playback the recorded sound is to touch another person, requiring cooperation and interaction with other people. (In collaboration with Mark McKeague, RCA Design Interactions).
GMW Architects Award for Work and City
Winner: Bethany Wells - Architecture
Access to spaces for education is under threat. This project explores how the agency of the architect can expand to support ethical access to tools, land and resources. It advocates an ethical architectural strategy to occupy unused space on a high street in Finsbury Park, London, bridging education, design practice and community action.
Helen Hamlyn Design Award for Alumni
Winners: Edward Goodwin and Richard Hartshorn - Industrial Design Engineering Graduates 2001 & Helen Hamlyn Research Associates 2002 Medical innovations with Imperial College
Over the past five years, the industrial design practice of Goodwin Hartshorn has worked closely with clinicians and researchers at Imperial College London to develop a series of innovations for keyhole and robotic surgery.
Helen Hamlyn Design Award for Creativity
Winner: David Swann - Vehicle Design
21st Century Healthcare and Treatment Case
This project redesigns the traditional black nursing bag carried by community nurses on home visits - a case which has been largely unchanged for the past 100 years. This 21st century design aims to enhance patient safety by optimising hand decontamination performances, increasing clinical efficiency through modularity and improving productivity of the health visitor.