A digital tape measure born from a desire by QUT engineering student Jake Dean to help a blind friend wanting to tackle home renovations is the Australian winner of the prestigious international design competition for students and recent graduates, the James Dyson Award.
The tape measure is called the Macaron. It has a patent-pending method of monitoring the measuring thread as it’s pulled from its housing, and it is paired via Bluetooth with a smartphone app which records and saves the measurements.
The device provides vibration feedback that the readings are saved and also incorporates audio.
Jake, above, who graduated last year and is now promoting STEM learning, says while the smart-tech measure was designed for people with vision impairment, the team believes it will be useful for everyone.
“We want it to be something anyone can use, whether they have vision issues, or a disability or not,” he said.
“It’s a new way of measuring and recording, so you are not always having to write down things with pen and paper. If you’re a builder or a health professional and you have to measure things quickly and accurately, this is an alternative to the basic tape measure.”
The winning team members are Jake, Yuma Decaux and Weng Hou Chan (both University of Queensland alumni) and QUT industrial design graduate Eric (Woo Sung) Jung.
It was while working night shifts at a service station that then electrical engineering student Jake struck up a friendship with Yuma, who was studying maths, and who lost his sight in a fireworks accident in 2008. Before that Yuma worked as a 3D animation designer.
“Yuma would come in to the servo a lot and we’d talk,” Jake said. “He wanted to be able to renovate his house but specialised talking tape measure devices on the market were expensive, and he couldn’t find anything that suited what he wanted to do.”
The two discussed how they could devise something that was functional, accessible and aesthetic, pulling apart tape measures and working out how to incorporate available sensor technology into a design.
They founded the start-up OSeyeris and created prototypes, bringing in the expertise of their fellow students.
The $3000 prize the team has won as the Australian James Dyson Award winner will help towards commercialising the product.
They have progressed to the competition’s international judging, with 20 finalists to be shortlisted from the national winners and runners-up chosen in 27 countries. The international top 20 will be announced on October 18 and the overall winner on November 15.
This is the second year in a row that QUT graduates have figured prominently in the Australian James Dyson Award.
Industrial design graduate William Mason was the 2017 national winner with his Activ Infusion Pump for chemotherapy delivery, and QUT design graduates Steve Buhagiar and Gus Bellekens were among national runners-up for their scuba tank monitoring device The Canary.