Dubai design week

Part of Dubai Design Week, the Global Grad Show is a selection of 150 of the most forward-thinking and potentially life-changing design projects selected from 100 universities from around the world.

Taking place from November 13 – 17 at Dubai Design District (d3), the free-to-attend Global Grad Show is curated by renowned author and designer Brendan McGetrick who whittled down the over 1,000 entries, the largest to date, to a mere 150 including entries from elite tertiary institutions such as MIT, Harvard and the Royal College of Art (RCA).

The four guiding principles of the selection process are innovation that transcends technology; equality without hierarchy amongst universities, regions and designers; universal design open to all users; and impact on the world at large. As McGetrick explains:

“Global Grad Show is not only a showcase of ideas from the brightest young minds around the world, it’s a celebration of creativity and optimism. Graduates today are faced with daunting truths such as climate change, automation, and mass migration. Each of these projects offers a restorative solution; an idea of how to make human-scale changes with the hope of bettering humankind as a whole.” 

Here is a selection of 7 projects that tackle current global issues and offer innovative solutions:

1. Climate Change

Stem – Perfect Ecosystems by Peter Cheah, Monash University, Australia

With global bee populations at risk of extinction, Stem seeks to provide a solution for the worst case scenario – life without bees. Using artificial eco-systems and vertical carousel farming, plants are mechanically pollinated via a robotic arm equipped with magnetically charged styluses.

Dubai design week

2. Medical Breakthroughs

The MasSpec Pen – Diagnostics in 10 Seconds by Livia Eberlin, Jialing Zhang and Thomas Milner, The University of Texas at Austin

Merging fields of chemistry, medicine and engineering the MasSpec Pen aims to help surgeons cut down the amount of time it takes to identify cancerous tissue, thus greatly reducing the risk of infection. Instead of putting the sample under a microscope which can take up to 30 minutes, surgeons can use the pen which sucks in a chemical-infused water droplet from the sample for analysis. The pen is then plugged into a mass spectrometer, which produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors whether they are looking at benign or malignant tissue.

Dubai design week

3. Ageing Populations

Jelly Drops – The Hydration Treat by Lewis Hornby, RCA

Lewis Hornby has a background in Civil Engineering but sought to provide a more human-centric approach to the ailment affecting his grandmother Pat. With dementia patients even the simplest of daily tasks can become major health hurdles. Jelly Drops, which are made up of 90 per cent water, help patients avoid dehydration through an engaging, easy-to-eat format which excites and encourages them to independently feed themselves throughout the day. The solid format increases hydration as it gives the kidneys a better chance to absorb the water. 

dubai design week

4. Low Tech Solutions

AQUAIR – Fresh Drinking Water Out of Thin Air by Wei Yee Ong Hsin-ju Lin, Shih-min Chang, and Marco Villela, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

Created in response to Honduras’ water crisis, the team sought to offer rural and subsistence famers and communities a way of collecting water in times of drought or groundwater contamination. AQUAIR collects water through a mesh waterproof fabric that is stretched across a bamboo structure. The design works with a fan and small centrifuge that use gravity to collect water vapour into a bucket. The structure is collapsible and local materials can be used for the weight and tensile structure.

Dubai design week

5. Design for Disability

FingerReader – Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired by the Augmented Human Lab, The University of Aukland, New Zealand

The FingerReader is a wearable device that can read printed text out loud via a small camera that the user directs towards a line of text. The computer algorithms then generate the audio in real time.

Dubai design week

6. Community

Rehber – Locate Your Family if You Get Separated by Hamza Oza, RCA

Without relying on smartphones or mobile networks, this simple-to-use device helps reunite lost family members in a mass crowd environment like the Hajj in Mecca. The system consists of a wearable device and a supporting service. Each device has a range of up to 5 kilometres and is not dependent on Bluetooth or WiFi. 

7. Smart Cities

Culverture – Prefabricated Low-Cost Housing by Su-Nam Chen, Daniele Cronje and Jaclyn Kapp, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Culverture is a system of affordable housing units developed from pre-fabricated concrete culvert pipes which greatly reduces the cost and time of traditional in-situ construction. The already commercially available culverts systems which are used for water infrastructure can be repurposed to create eight square metre units that provide a bed, toilet, shower, kitchen and storage space. The stackable units can be configured to create shared spaces on ground and roof levels.

Dubai design week

In addition to the exhibition, there will also be the inaugural ‘Belief in AI’ Innovation Conference curated by the CTO of London’s Serpentine Gallery Ben Vickers and artist and Machine Intelligence programme lead at Google Arts & Culture, Kendrick McDowell. The conference will investigate the future role of AI in creativity, education and spirituality.

To see all the 150 projects, visit the Global Grad Show website here.

To see more future forward design projects read 7 Futuristic Designs That Will Change CitiesBeazley Designs of the Year 2018: Sustainable Design and 9 Inspirational South African Stories of Sustainability next.