Innovation kickstarted

21 December 2016 | Education
Printer Friendly and PDF
The Quotidian Pen is made from premium aircraft-grade aluminium or brass, and carefully engineered to ensure centre weighting that allows for effortless writing

A pen with a magnetic propulsion mechanism; a wallet that sorts coins from notes; and an inflatable pillow that can be completely filled using just one puff of air. These projects — designed, developed and created by students from NUS School of Design and Environment’s Division of Industrial Design (DID) — have attracted a significant amount of attention and support, not only from Singapore but from countries like Thailand, Hong Kong and as far as the UK. 

Strong attraction-repulsion forces of rare-earth magnet Neodymium are used to lock and unlock the pen nib of the Quotidian Pen, created by Year 3 students Chui Pak Ho and Wilmer Tay, and Year 2 student Yong Zi Fong. This minimalist pen reveals its nib, which will be magnetically propelled out, when the cap is brought to the back of the pen body. The magnetic forces also allow users to enjoy more ways of interaction with the pen, be it spinning, flicking and fidgeting. Their campaign on global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter hit their $4,000 target within 20 minutes of launching and closed after a month with $71,000 and with some 640 backers. The creators hope the elegant pen will be a daily companion to the user, as well as an heirloom that can be passed down through generations.

“It is definitely very encouraging and humbling to receive such overwhelming response both locally and internationally,” said Wilmer. “As a student and designer, this entire experience has been a timely reminder that if we put our heart and soul in what we believe in, we'll reap the fruits of our labour. And most importantly, to never belittle the craziest idea you have, because you'll never know how well it may turn out to be.”

wallet 2

Coins in the KIN wallet can be easily accessed via a side pocket after being sorted

Most people can probably relate to the discomfort of fumbling with change while holding up a queue. Searching for a solution to this dilemma led to the creation of the KIN wallet by Year 4 student Lim Li Xue, Year 3 student Cheryl Ho and Year 2 student Ng Ai Ling. Launched on Kickstarter on 1 November 2016, their campaign closed just a month later after amassing more than $280,000 from some 4,700 backers. The interior of the wallet is specially sewn to allow notes and coins to be separated after being placed through the top compartment and shaken. The coins can then be accessed via a side compartment. Their innovative design prevents backflow of coins once they are placed into the wallet.

“The response thus far has been overwhelming,” said Li Xue. “We did not expect our product to get so big! We are really humbled to receive so much support locally and internationally and are also incredibly thankful for our friends and family who have supported us since the start. To us, it is validation that as long as you have a vision, and passion, you will work through it somehow.”

The team is currently looking into further developments in the wallet’s design, as well as the possible creation of new products, said Cheryl. 

pillow 2

The Aubergine Pillow was created in the hopes of giving users the ability to catch a few moments of peaceful sleep anytime of the day

The search for easy and comfortable snooze time during the day led to the invention of the Aubergine Pillow, a collaborative effort between Hor Sue Xian (Year 4), John Teo (Year 3) and Jacelyn Lau (Year 2). This innovative product makes use of the Bernoulli Effect, a scientific theory that states that air moving at a faster speed would have a lower pressure and vice versa. By blowing at a short distance away from the spout of the pillow, the resultant lower pressure draws surrounding air into the spout, increasing the volume of air that enters the pillow. This allows the pillow to be inflated with just one puff of air. Shaped like an aubergine, the pillow’s curves and dimple give both stability to the user’s head and support to the neck. When deflated, the pillow reduces to the size of a smartphone, allowing it to be easily stored. The team’s campaign on Kickstarter raised some $23,000 from 370 backers in one month, surpassing their initial target of $5,000.

“It is very exciting to see our efforts and product come to fruition,” said John. “We are especially grateful for all the support our family, friends and local community have given us throughout this journey. This is definitely only the beginning of our design entrepreneurship careers!”

Each student team is now working with manufacturers to produce and deliver their products to their backers.