The Design Council has announced the winners of its annual Spark Awards, which aim to bring life-enhancing product designs to market. This year sees four winning teams, who will each receive up to £50,000 in order to help make their concepts a reality.
The first winning concept is the Rockit, a portable baby rocker which can be attached to a pram, car seat or crib, and which simulates a gentle rocking motion and vibration to soothe babies to sleep. It was created by Nick Webb, Matt Sparrow and Matt Dyson. Nick had the original idea when his daughter Abigail was 3 months old and would always wake up when the buggy stopped moving, particularly at supermarket checkouts. A basic prototype was initially made, which proved that a battery powered, portable rocker could soothe a baby effectively. The two matts then turned the original idea into the eventual Rockit design and produced fully working prototypes. The fact that it's literally shaped like a rocket doesn't detract from the genius behind the product's form factor, instead actually enhancing it.
Tickleflex by Tickletec is a device to aid diabetics when they inject themselves with insulin. It clips on to a needle and pinches the tissue under the skin, while helping to control needle depth and reduce pain caused by injecting. It was designed by Peter Bailey, who has Type 1 diabetes himself. Whereas traditional insulin injectors are painful and uncomfortable, this device aims to make that pain and discomfort a thing of the past. Just press the pad against your body and inject. Safe and steady, no discomfort so no stress; you can't even see the needle penetrate the skin. Simply slide TickleFlex onto the needle and use your pen as normal. The silicon fingers are designed to fold up when pressed against the skin. Together they have 144 texture points to stimulate the nerves and will grip the skin even through body hair.
Handy-Fasteners are a proposed 'replacement' for buttons, intended for those who have arthritis in their hands. The magnetic clothes fasteners aim to make dressing and undressing easier. This product was created with support from the Spark Awards 2016 sponsor, Arthritis Research UK, and was designed by Matthew Barrett, Natalie English and Thomas Fantham. These fasteners can be attached to existing shirts and blouses so that time-consuming, fiddly buttons, can be replaced by speed and ease of use.
Rhinamite, finally, is a non-invasive medical device to stop nosebleeds, which works by applying cool pressure to the nose. It can be used by both patients and healthcare professionals. Wendy Minks, an oral and maxillofacial surgery trainee, designed the concept. Rhinamite was designed in consultation with frequent nosebleed sufferers to be not only the most effective way to stop your nosebleed fast, but also be easy to apply and comfortable to wear. The idea is that, with Rhinamite in your first aid kit or medical bag, facial injuries can be treated quickly and more effectively; nose bleeds stop faster and swelling and around the eyes is reduced in the short term and over the following days.
Up to £50,000 will be awarded to each winner, and this will go towards the next stage of product development. The Design Council Spark programme received more than 350 applications this year, which was whittled down to 13 concepts. The programme was first launched in 2014.