In order to explore and develop the power and flexibility of Large-Area Electronics (LAE), Cambridge University’s ESPRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing briefed CSM’s BA Product Design students to bring some creative thinking to this innovative project, which resulted in 48 new concepts being presented for consideration to a panel of industry partners.
The challenge was to incorporate functional LAE elements, such as sensors, displays, energy storage and lighting into their designs in attractive and compelling ways, which demonstrate functional capability and new modes of use. Concepts were judged on their design innovation, how well the LAE elements were presented and their commercial potential/application.
The four finalists were:
‘The waiting ticket’ by Hanako Zhang – a flexible wristband incorporating a display and communications to keep customers informed of the timing of an appointment.
‘The interactive book’ by Kai Lawrence – a book, which communicates information through different graphic examples of printed electronics, with the technology embedded in the pages.
‘Smart step’ by Qian Han – a smart shoe insole which includes built-in pressure sensors and gyroscope system, which connects to an app on a phone via Bluetooth
‘Nerve’ by Tracy Hernandez – a portable electronic massager using TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to provide pain relief through a flexible pad that can mould to the body.
Hanako Zhang, the creator of the winning design ‘The Waiting Ticket’ explained how LAE technology ‘has endless possibilities to change people’s lives by simplifying things: what used to take more space or more time could be minimised drastically — and working with something like that made it a valuable learning experience.’
The ESPRC Centre is now working with technology providers and a product design company to create a prototype demonstrator before producing a small number of demonstrator systems.
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