You've seen him: he's the soft-voiced Englishman who pushes a vacuum cleaner around on TV. He's also a very wealthy man, thanks to that vacuum cleaner and his other inventions (you may have used his Air Blade, a truly tornadic hand dryer). He's James Dyson, of course. And his foundation offers an annual £10,000 prize to the student or group of students who invent the best "something that solves a problem."
In four days time, the foundation will pick the 2010 winner from the 15 semi-finalists. Have a look and place your bets.
It's hard to choose. There's the really handy Wanderest, for example, a simple seat for the old that can be attached to handy lamp posts, hydro poles and the like:
And then there's the life-saving (and wonderfully named) SeaKettle, "a life raft with an incorporated desalination process":
Or my own favourite, the Copenhagen Wheel, from a gang at MIT:
… it transforms existing bicycles quickly into hybrid electric-bikes with regeneration and real-time sensing capabilities. Its sleek red hub not only contains a motor, batteries and an internal gear system – helping cyclists overcome hilly terrains and long distances – but also includes environmental and location sensors that provide data for cycling-related mobile applications.
(Nice boots, by the way.)
The whole thing is a lot more fun than vacuum cleaners. So put on your English accent and survey the field of competitors. Then check back with the Dyson site on the 5th to see what the judges thought.