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National Innovation Shines at National Award Ceremony

Rebecca Lamb

Gadgets and gizmos commended for supporting independent living

TALENTED INVENTORS have been recognised with a national award recognising innovations and inventions that enhance independent living for people with disabilities.

Winners were crowned at the annual Blackwood Design Awards – which attracts design entries from tech hubs, universities, and inventors across the globe that look to improve the lives of people who are ageing or have disabilities.

It was the 10th anniversary of the coveted event, at the National Robotarium at Heriot-Watt University.

Blackwood Homes are specialists in independent living and facilitate the Design Awards both to highlight the challenges that affect those with disabilities, but to promote, sponsor and recognise the promise of independent living for all.

The Blackwood Design Awards are now an annual fixture and winners have delivered vital life aids, including an app that makes living spaces safer for people with dementia and a “spill proof” spoon for those affected by conditions which cause them to shake.

21-year-old, Rebecca Lamb from Glasgow picked up Best New Concept for her concept, ‘inflataAid’, an assisted flotation device for children with disabilities and was awarded £2,000 in prize money.

Inspired by her experience of teaching a child for over 2 years who has paraplegia to swim, Rebecca saw an opportunity for a product to be adapted based of the child’s progression.

The device allows separate sections to be inflated and deflate once the swimmer is more advanced with the end goal being that the child will learn how to be able to swim without the aid.

Tim Morgan from The Mountain Trike Company was recognised for Best New Aids, Equipment, or Accessible Technology for eTrike Mountain Bike, a category for products already on the market.

The eTrike is an all-terrain wheelchair with electric assistant and eBike technology with off-road capabilities, enabling a wider range of people to enjoy the countryside and benefit from the extended freedom the electric assist bike provides, whilst still enabling them to self-propel for good physical exercise and wellbeing.

22-year-old University of Edinburgh graduate Angus Bartlett picked up Best Collaborative Project for his Bayu Bottle invention, a bottle to assist those with limited ability to administer fluid independently and was awarded £2,000 in prize money.

The idea behind the concept came from the graduate’s experience working as a healthcare assistant, where he noticed the difficulties that some people face when drinking as well as the importance of maintaining autonomy.

Carol Pradeep

Bayu bottle includes a specially designed mouthpiece and modular components to give users autonomy over their hydration where they might otherwise rely on others for water.

The inventors pitched their concepts to a diverse panel of judges, which included Blackwood customers with lived experience, board members and event sponsors Hyper Luminal Games, Robert Sinclair Interiors and Social Telecoms.

Blackwood Housing and Care has earned a reputation for its use with cutting-edge technology to help its customers to live independently.

Simon Fitzpatrick, Blackwood Chief Executive, said:

For the past 10 years, we’ve been blown away with the quality and diversity of the products and concepts that have been entered.

The Blackwood Design Awards and the inventions that have been birthed from it is something we’re extremely proud of and reaching the 10-year anniversary is a significant milestone.

It is always fantastic to host an event where innovators can share their experiences and a provide a platform to showcase their work. A huge well done to the winners as well as those who entered – who made the judges’ job very hard in awarding the winning designs.

Each invention promotes independent living, which is at the heart of what we do at Blackwood and the talented work and commitment on display was a testament to that.

Stewart Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the National Robotarium said:

It was an honour to host and speak at this year’s Blackwood Design Awards.

The calibre of this year’s shortlisted projects has been excellent and demonstrates how further development and adoption of robotic technologies can address health challenges and enhance people’s lives.

Through a number of collaborative projects, the National Robotarium has forged strong links with Blackwood Homes and Care. We continue to work with them and value their insight and expertise when co-designing and co-creating robotics and AI solutions that can aid independent living and improve outcomes for both patients and clinicians.

With 600 staff, Blackwood operates more than 1500 properties across 29 local authorities in Scotland, enabling people with complex needs or age-related conditions to live as independently as possible.

Rebecca Lamb and InflataAid

Many of its properties feature its "CleverCogs" technology which is personalised and links users to care and health services, home automation, local information, entertainment, and video access to family and friends. The proprietary CleverCogs digital system lets users customise it to suit their life.

The housing specialist puts customers at the heart of everything it does, and their satisfaction is critical to Blackwood's success. As a modern, supportive employer it also provides individuals with pathways towards achieving long and rewarding careers in roles that make a positive difference.

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