The national winners for the James Dyson Awards 2021, have been announced, and the invention of LifeBox by Deval Karia from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru has adjudicated as the national winner for this year’s edition. From a competitive pool of 77 entries evaluated by the jury led by Mr Srijan Pal Singh, the CEO and Co-Founder of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Centre; LifeBox narrowly edged out Safaa; an invention by Ananaya Singh and Vacha Patel, from the National Institute Of Design, Haryana; and Diariase; invented by invented by Nikhil Das from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad to emerge as the national winner from India.
The national winner and both the national runners-up; along with the 84 national finalists from 28 countries and regions will now proceed to the international stages of the competition. A panel of Dyson engineers will create a Top 20 shortlist from these finalists. Sir James Dyson will then choose an International winner and two runners-up. He will also appoint a Sustainability winner for the national finalist that best pays attention to their inventions part in today’s sustainable agenda. This could be through its materials, design process, methods of manufacture, or even the solution to the invention itself.
The inability to move hearts from donor to recipient quickly is a challenge that patients face in India. LifeBox tackles this problem with a system that extends preservation time of the heart to allow for increased travel time and distances.
The project LifeBox has been developed with a vision to explore drones as a transport channel for organs. The project adopted a user-in-the-loop approach to engineering design that began with an extensive literature review, user discussions, and empathy exercises. Multiple interviews were conducted with stakeholders across the spectrum, including policymaking, transplant experts, clinicians etc. Insights gained from these immersion activities led to realignment of priorities: making an active preservation device that extends the out-of-body viable time of the heart. Conceptually, multiple ideas were brainstormed, leading to development of several prototypes and a novel cooling system that allows for significant reduction in weight and power requirement. Fluid delivery and cooling sub-systems were iteratively improved via experiments. At the end of each design stage, stakeholders were revisited and based on their feedback course corrections, if necessary, were made. The idea of the novel cooling method (the device consists of two sub-systems: perfusion/flushing and cooling) was inspired by the inner workings of a simple convection over.
How it works?
There are two sub-systems within the device: cooling and perfusion/flushing. A peristaltic pump drives the preservation fluid from a reservoir to the heart which is housed within a chamber. It is equipped with multiple sensors that track biomarkers which are indicative of heart health. Waste fluid from the heart is then collected via a waste reservoir pump. The heart in this setup is only intermittently perfused and does not beat. The cooling sub-system utilizes a refrigerant, over which air is blown to cool it. The system is feedback controlled using temperature sensors and maintain hypothermic temperatures (4-8 degree Celsius). This impedes heart metabolism which in turn prevents damage. The user can control and monitor all necessary parameters via a touchscreen mounted on the device. This also serves to inform the user in case of any alerts/warnings. Data is also transmitted in real time to the recipient site so that the surgeon can prepare accordingly.
Deval Karia, the inventor of LifeBox, said: “India has an abysmal rate of 200 heart transplants annually, despite a staggering 50,000 people in need. Institutional factors aside, the inability to move hearts from a donor to the recipient is a major hindrance to bridging this gap.”
“The project has its genesis in a course taught by Prof. B. Gurumoorthy, Prof. A. Ghosal at CPDM, with a vision to explore drones for organ transportation. However, we soon realized that without active preservation techniques, drones will not do much to improve the rate of heart transplants in India. This led to a shift in focus: A portable system that can extend the out-of-body viable time of the heart.”
On his future plans with the LifeBox project:
“We’ve recently received support from BIRAC to further develop the device and conduct a pilot clinical investigation. Eventually, we intend to make parts of the device designs available open source, allowing multiple players the freedom to operate and test the device independently.”
Srijan Pal Singh – a member of the JDA jury panel; and also currently, the CEO and Co-Founder of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Centre; said:
“The James Dyson Award 2021 once again stands tall as the hallmark for promoting young technologists to solve global challenges. This year the entries were highly focussed on solving real life challenges and making life better for humankind. The winning entries were places where the most innovative ideas met the most pressing challenge – ranging from improving longevity of organs for transplantation, to improving dialysis process and providing safer drinking water to masses.”
Shashank Nimkar, also a member of the JDA judging panel; and India’s national winner of the JDA 2020 edition, said of this year’s India entries:
“It was an exciting experience to see truly socially impactful innovations across a wide range of spectrum. These ideas when executed well have the potential to make the world a better place for all of us.”
The National Runners Up
Safaa: A cheap and fuel-efficient way to acquire clean drinking water in rural villages, and settlements near polluted water sources.
Problem: Rural areas often face problem of sourcing clean drinking water. For the team Safaa, comprising of Ananaya Singh and Vacha Patel, students from the National Institute Of Design, Haryana, this problem only became more prominent when they visited settlements near their college and realized the magnitude and factual reality of how water could affect the health and livelihood of people.
Solution: Safaa provides clean water via distillation in rural settlements with no access to clean water. It’s a water filtration solution that can provide upto 15L of clean water at a time. The product cleans water by the basic principle of Distillation. This process is accelerated and made efficient via vacuum creation which enables it to boil and distil water faster and with minimal heat requirement.
NATIONAL RUNNER UP
DIARAISE- Diaraise is dialysis accessory to safely raise the amount of toxins removed from the blood during dialysis to improve the quality of life of the patients and the efficiency of utilization of resources.
Problem: Basis months of research in hospitals, 220 need statements, with several related to kidney disease, were identified by Nikhil Das from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad; as patients faced the debilitating effects of the condition, by the entrant. Considering factors like criticality, potential social impact, and scope of innovation, a need statement of ‘increasing the rate of removal of toxins from blood’ was the problem that Diaraise set out to solve.
Solution: Diaraise improves the effectiveness of dialysis for patients who get inadequate dialysis (upto 50 percent). For the rest of the patients, it enables safe reduction of the duration of dialysis, thus, saving time and resources of the dialysis centres. As an accessory, Diaraise can be externally attached to the dialyzer during dialysis. It transmits ultrasonic waves into the dialyzer to create a stirring effect in order to dislodge the particles clogging the membranes of the dialyzer. The mild turbulence thus created, promotes diffusion and increases the rate of removal of toxins from the blood. The custom-engineered acoustic system, comprising the driving electronics, piezoelectric crystals, metallic base, and coupling medium, ensures efficient transmission of ultrasonic waves into the dialyzer. The industrial design accommodates the technical requirements as well as the use cases of a dialysis centre. The design will accommodate the requirements of several standards for medical devices which Diaraise needs to comply with. Data is being collected through controlled testing in the clinical setting, and along with the improved design will be used to get necessary licenses and approvals for its regular clinical use.
LifeBox, Safaa and Dairaise will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award. International Top 20 shortlist and international winners will be announced on 13th October 2021 and 17th November 2021 respectively.