A graduate from the University of the West of England (UWE) has been shortlisted for the national UK heat of the James Dyson Award.
Will Drake has designed a hand massage machine aimed at helping to improve the quality of life for people who suffer from arthritis.
Thanks to research at the Bath Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases where he met with health practitioners and patients to help inform his design, he gained a first class honours degree from UWE earlier this year.
Now he is in line for the prestigious, international student design award run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers.
“As a designer it is so nice to have recognition for all those late nights in the studios,” said Will. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the final results, but I’m not holding my breath, it was just nice to have caught the judges’ eyes.
“I would not have achieved it without the help of Drew Batchelor, Kurt Gauss and all the other lecturers and technicians who helped in my final year, and not to forget the fantastic team at the Mineral Hospital, Bath. The next and most important step for me now is to try and get the concept to market and that will be the real challenge.”
The graduate said it was the shock of seeing a friend’s father suffering from rheumatoid arthritis that led him to design his hand massager, which is of most use in the morning.
“I discovered that one of the most difficult times in the day for people with acute arthritis is first thing in the morning. At this time joints are particularly stiff and many people say that this is the worst time of day when they suffer the most pain in their joints,” he said.
“My hand massage device utilizes airbags and infra red heat to soothe aches and pains. The unit mimics the Paraffin wax bath treatment used in hospitals that inspired this idea, and adds a massage element to the treatment, that also aids movement.
“When researching the project I found that most disabled products are ugly, stigmatising and very undesirable products. So I decided that I wanted to target both of these problems and make getting up in the morning a more enjoyable experience and making the product I designed desirable, a product the user was not ashamed to have in their home and one they looked forward to using.”
Andrew Batchelor, senior lecturer in product design at UWE praised the hard work is former student had put in.
“This is a fantastic achievement, a real recognition of all the hard work and dedication Will has put into his studies over the last three years. Will is down to one of eight UK finalists which is the best UWE has ever done in this competition, we’re all hoping he will go on to win!”