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Worldchanging Innovation Fills the I.D. Student Design Review

grasshopper.jpg Each year, I.D. Magazine runs an issue showcasing selected designs from students around the world. It's always filled - as can only be expected from I.D. - with concepts that are deeply considered, forward-thinking and socially relevant. But this year it seems particularly well-stocked with ideas we'd call worldchanging.

The design at right, called Grasshopper, is a tractor that runs on any type of organic matter or agricultural waste. It minimizes operating costs and reduces excessive farm waste, freeing up space for productive land.

The Biostep, designed by a team of Pratt students, is "a pressure-sensitive floor tile that can convert footsteps into energy stored in a high-capacity battery cell." It's a rubbery tile designed for use in areas with high foot traffic. The product emerges from research at MIT Media Lab; and of course, the idea of capturing kinetic energy is becoming quite a trendy idea in renewable, green energy.

Another intriguing one was the N-One, designed by a student in New Zealand. It's an intravenous fusion pump for dispensing medication which can be worn on the upper arm almost like a jogging walkman. The device is computerized so that it can not only monitor the medication within the container, but can accept remote wireless communication from doctors, so that dosages can be altered and patients can recover from home more easily.

Finally, two that fit into the category of "smart home technology" are the Hot Fridge and the Janus Resource Awareness System. The Hot Fridge, by a student at the Royal College of Art, is 50% standard cold fridge. But for the other 50%, the gadget makes use of the thermal energy produced to keep the cool side cool, and uses it to warm another compartment. The Janus Resource Awareness System kind of conjures memories of the Wattson - an in-home monitor for reading one's domestic energy consumption. Janus Resource Awareness is a tricked-out wall mirror "that doubles as a touchscreen to register and display, in dollars, exactly how much electricity we consume in our homes and the effect of dimming or turning off lights."

One of the added bonuses of the ID Student Design Review is that they include not only praise from the jurors, but also the criticism [albeing constructive] that the sage, experienced crew of judges had to offer to the inspired but still novice finalists. It makes clear that there is a dialogue across industry disciplines and design generations, which pushes the long-term success of brand-new ideas.

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