Occupying the Imperial College Union Building and its leafy courtyard just south of the Royal Albert Hall, scientists, designers and engineers showcased their projects aiming to enhance the basic ingredients for a better life. Research topics included 'Freedom to explore', 'A place to call home', 'Space to create', and 'Health and wellbeing'.
Sports Innovation Challenge is a project challenging engineering students to design, build and implement Paralympic sporting equipment. The cross-faculty programme encourages collaboration across various departments within Imperial College London including Bioengineering, Design Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
This prosthesis for below-knee amputees is designed to enable the wearer to go to the beach. The foot's twin-toe construction supports walking on soft surfaces, while the 'fins' protruding outwards aid in swimming.
Mono-skiing outrigger Gnar is designed to improve the skiing experience for people with lower body disabilities. Getting back into position after a fall often poses a challenge for these skiers as they need assistance, with current outrigger designs too short to provide sufficient leverage. The simple but smart addition of a telescopic function with an added handle to lengthen the pole helps them get back up quicker for a more dynamic and enjoyable skiing experience.
'Propel' is a wheelchair system custom-designed for Paralympic swimmer Andrew Mullen. To take advantage of Andrew's strong right leg, the designer attached a pump action mechanism to the footrest that generates propulsion.
A further improvement to the wheelchair is the addition of two ergonomically moulded levers that serve for both steering and braking, taking into account that Mr Mullen doesn't have hands.
An everyday problem I can very much empathise with is cold feet. Design engineering graudate Iddo Wald has created a passive, natural system to make sure the wearer keeps her toes warm for as long as possible. It uses an undisclosed advanced thermally conductive material called 37°, that leads warmth from the heat-creating calf muscle to the less muscular, but more sensitive toes and top of the foot.
The secret material in use is not a new invention, but has never been used like this in a textile form, the designer tells me. The textile design element of the project was realised in collaboration with Gemma Charlotte Brown.
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