Room divider wins James Dyson Award

A portable, retractable room divider has won the UK leg of the James Dyson Award. Designed by Michael Korn, KwickScreen helps healthcare professionals make the best use of their often limited available space – allowing for more privacy, dignity and protection to patients.

The student at London’s Royal College of Art has explored the use bistable materials such as slap on bracelets and tape measures. He developed early prototypes drawing on concepts found in nature, including the Venus fly trap and a frog’s tongue.

James Dyson award winner Michael Korn and his KwickScreen

The discovery of RolaTube Technology gave Kom the idea of a retractable room divider. He now has exclusive rights to the use the technology for the production of screens and has a patent on the KwickScreen.

‘This is such a simple idea, using a well-proven mechanical principle in a unique and innovative way, which seems to have endless applications in a variety of different fields – I just wish I’d thought of it,’ says one of the judges Sebastian Conran.

‘Winning the  award will propel us towards our goal of increasing exports,’ says Kom. ‘The money will go directly towards the first pay packet for our new graduate engineer recruit who is working hard on R&D to develop the next iteration of KwickScreen.’

The KwickScreen is manufactured in Corby in the Midlands, using primarily local components. Since its launch eight months ago the device has been sold to over 25 NHS Trusts as well as hospitals in Italy, Canada and UAE.  By next year the designer expects 25% of sales to come from exports.

Runner’s up of the award included Curve, a simple solution to the pain and discomfort most female cyclists currently experience with standard saddle designs. Designed by Katy Korin, Curve’s unique shape compliments the shape of the female pelvis and supports her weight evenly. The torsion springs allow the saddle to tilt forward when there is an increase of pressure at the front of the saddle.

The Curve, shortlisted for the James Dyson Award

This tilting feature reduces the amount of pressure that the cyclist experiences on the pubic rami at the front of the pelvis. Three different stiffness of spring and sizes of saddle mean that a variety of female body shapes can use curve effectively and experience its benefits.

Another shortlisted entry is the Flexi-Pipe Pump by David Hutton, a simple, reliable and low cost water pump designed for the developing world. The pump makes use of commonly found materials: a simple bicycle pump produces the compressed air required.

All the shortlisted entries will now progress to the international stage of the competition – and will be judged by Dyson engineers and ultimately by Sir James Dyson himself.

The UK winning design Kwickscreen will progress to compete against leading innovations from the 18 other participating countries. The international winner will be selected by James Dyson and announced on 8 November 2011. Kom says he will use the £1000 of prize money to help with the further development of his invention.

Watch the video of the prototyping process

Read our previous reports on the James Dyson Award here.

Guest blogger Sean Jackson

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©