NUS Industrial Design alumni have shone well at the international stage, as seen by recent graduates Kwek Wenshu and Eason Chow who won the prestigious iF Student Design Award and Stanford Longevity Technology Prize respectively.
Wenshu's simple yet award-winning design, Safe.Lync, is a peritoneal dialysis connection system intended to enhance the safety, interaction and experience of dialysis for paediatric kidney patients. The non-mechanical system prevents the accidental touch contamination of connector openings which could lead to fatal infections.
Wenshu's idea for Safe.Lync stemmed from months of interaction with medical staff and patients while helping his father who suffers from chronic kidney failure. Observing how patients adapt to life while undergoing peritoneal dialysis made Wenshu better understand their fears and frustrations. "Design is not about me. It is about the user, the context and the environment," he explained. The device, developed in consultation with the Shaw-NKF-NUH Children's Kidney Centre, is currently under development and patent pending.
Wenshu's design was one of the 100 winning designs selected from almost 12,000 entries from 68 countries. Organised by the iF International Forum Design in Germany, entries were judged on the ability to create an intelligent and contemporary concept that presented a solution to an existing or future challenge and could be realistically implemented.
In another competition, Eason's Flipod bagged the Stanford Longevity Technology Prize at the Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge, which saw submissions from 42 student teams across 31 universities and 11 countries. The Challenge focused on ways to empower mobility among older adults in their daily lives.
Flipod is a simple device that replaces manual body rotations for non-ambulatory patients with the help of inflated air bags which mimic the role of caretakers without their supervision. It helps relieve respiratory and bed discomfort due to prolonged static sleeping positions.
The current mechanical Continuous Lateral Body Rotation Therapy used in hospitals requires extensive training before usage and is too bulky for non-ambulatory patients. Furthermore, it only performs symmetrical body rotations. Eason's device however, uses magnets to allow the air bags to be positioned to the user's specific pressure points.
Flipod was developed in collaboration with the Department of Physiotherapy at the Singapore General Hospital and was tested on users from the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore. It is currently undergoing a patent application process.
"I am glad that the skills I have gained through the NUS Industrial Design course enabled me to work with the end users, developing useful and innovative design outcomes, said Eason.
Eason will present his device at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in China in September 2015.