Budding designers create life-changing inventions for people with disabilities

One young designer unveiled a robotic piece of furniture to help someone with limited mobility live more independently at home.

Aspiring inventors have unveiled life-changing concepts that could enhance independent living for disabled people in an annual awards ceremony.

The event saw 18 designers go head-to-head in the Blackwood Design Awards held at Heriot-Watt University’s National Robotarium, with ten shortlisted.

The winners were offered cash prizes and promotional opportunities from Blackwood to help develop their designs.

Carol Pradeep, a student at Heriot-Watt, came up with a robotic piece of furniture that can help someone with limited mobility live more independently at home.

It works alongside existing home robots to help deliver essential items to those in care without the constant need of a carer.

Carol Pradeep with his design ‘Fetch with Temi’.

Mr Pradeep said: “We came up with this solution because it would be more beneficial for people who want food and medicines to be delivered to them without any caregivers around.

“It’s furniture that is made to work along with any mobile robots, like telepresence robots – we have one here, which is Temi. These both working together will result in very independent living.”

Many of this year’s entrants had an insight into the challenges of living with a disability.

Rebecca Lamb won best new concept. She created a floatation aid for children with physical disabilities to help them learn to swim.

The University of Strathclyde student said: “The inspiration for the project as a whole was from a child that I teach swimming to as I’m a part time swimming teacher.

Rebecca Lamb with her design
Rebecca Lamb with her design, Inflata Aid.

“I’ve taught this child for over two years, who’s got paraplegia, and with the standard equipment that’s available in swimming lessons I’ve always thought there could be something better to help him progress.”

Graeme Stewart from Spinal Injuries Scotland is a judge on the panel and, as a wheelchair user himself, knows all too well the benefits of encouraging these innovative designs.

Mr Stewart said: “I had my accident 40 years ago, wheelchair design at that time was limited I would say, and now I have a lightweight cabin fibre wheelchair that makes my life so much easier and things have moved forward.

“But they continually need to move forward, it makes you feel as if you are wanted and that you are worth something.”

Graeme Stewart from Spinal Injuries Scotland.

Blackwood CEO Simon Fitzpatrick said: “Finding new projects and services to help people live independently means they can keep their choice and control over their life.

“If you don’t support, not just young innovators, but innovators right across that spectrum to do that then we’re not going to see the products and services that are going to help us live more independently over the next ten, 20 or even 50 years – that’s why it’s so important for us at Blackwood.”

Applications for the next set of awards will open later this year for any budding inventors that are thinking of applying.

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