This next Dyson Award finalist is Matthew Burton, who's studying Industrial Design at the University of Houston, where he crossed paths with fellow student Justin Farley.
Farley, who has cerebral palsy, is the founder of UNlimiters, a website that showcases product designs that help the differently-abled live independently. Some of these objects are electric and may need to plugged in or unplugged every day, like an electric wheelchair that needs to charge.
During a study with Farley, Burton learned how the constant need to plug and unplug electronics impacts Farley's daily life:
Justin is constantly cycling through and making use of electronic devices in attempts to ease his daily tasks. It was made immediately clear that dealing with the cords and plugs of electric devices was difficult for him. In fact, I found that Justin came into contact more frequently and had more issues with electronic plugs than kitchen utensils during an average day. This problem spurred on the development of a new outlet system that could ease Justin's daily tasks.
Burton came up with Connect, a cleverly-designed module that plugs directly into a standard outlet, providing three perfectly circular, magnetic, female connections. The user then caps the plugs on their devices with male magnetic projections. With this system in place, all plugs essentially become Mag-Safe-style connections that are easy to plug or unplug, and which obviate the need to rotate the plug to any particular orientation.
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I dig that it transforms two plugs into three! And Burton is forecasting a wide market for the system. "While Connect is specifically designed to increase the functionality and usability of electrical outlets for those with physical limitations," he writes, "I found that it can be of great value across markets and across generations. Whether it is a lack of grip strength, or failing eyesight; a bad back, limited dexterity, or a lack of height; Connect is the answer to easing the process of using household electronics; especially those which are frequently plugged in and out."