SA design prototypes recognised

10 December 2003

A portable morgue, an inflatable refuge chamber for miners, a gearbox technology that eliminates the need for traction fluid, and an adjustable canoe seat were among 18 design prototypes recognised at the annual SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) Design Institute Prototype awards last month.

The awards – aimed at assisting and encouraging new product development in South Africa – recognise local designers and their new product prototypes.

Adrienne Viljoen, SABS Design Institute manager, said: “We have been astounded by the interest and response to this year’s prototype awards.

“Not only has there been a 50 percent increase in the number of entries received, but this has also produced quality entries, which demonstrates that South African innovators are developing products that can make an impact both locally and internationally.”

Those entries deemed excellent by the panel of judges received special recognition in the form of a certificate.

Other entrants won the opportunity to participate in various support programmes and incentives that will help them get their products to the final stages of manufacture and marketing.

Some of the winners of the 2003 Prototype Awards were:

  • Continuous Variable Transmission – a new gearbox technology that eliminates the need for traction fluid and improves drive train efficiency and versatility. 
  • The N-Tyre System – a system of electronic hardware and software designed to reduce tyre, wheel and ancillary costs in the heavy-duty transport industry. 
  • The Inflatable Refuge Chamber – a lightweight portable refuge chamber for use in the mining industry, to provide shelter against hazardous gases, toxic smoke and poor ventilation. 
  • The Eezee Pump – a suction water pump for transferring water easily and efficiently to rural communities with little manual effort. 
  • The Montsamaisa Bosigo – a robust three-part telescopic tow bar which can be collapsed and stored in the boot of a car. 
  • The Rear Side End Tipper – used for transporting and tipping bulk materials. The tipper not only offers increased payload per load, but also tips while in transit, requiring no unhitching of additional trailers. 
  • The Q 500 Cell Phone – a mobile smart phone that offers extended features and functionality over and above basic voice and messaging facilities. 
  • The Adjustable Canoe Seat – with cutout holes, offering paddlers relief from a common condition called Pirifromus Syndrome, otherwise known as “deadleg”. 
  • The Escape Window – a hinged window frame with burglar bars that can be used as an emergency exit from the house. 
  • The Porta-Morgue – a portable, modular morgue for use mainly in rural areas.

The SABS Design Institute and the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law instituted a support programme for prototypes in 1997. The programme, aimed at assisting and encouraging new product development in South Africa, has since grown into an independent initiative.

The programme seeks to encourage the incorporation of the services of professional industrial designers in the process of product development, and encourage consultation with patent attorneys to protect designers’ intellectual property.

It also looks to bring product developers into contact with the technical assistance available to them, and alert product developers to the various financial and business incentives and assistance schemes on offer.

Some practical, offbeat and potentially life-saving products have received recognition from the Design Institute in the past. These include a child alert bracelet that assists parents to monitor their young children, a shock absorbing boxing glove that takes the physical danger out of the sport, and a space-saving concertina collapsible trailer.

Other products that have been recognised in the past are a human-powered hydrofoil, an automatic porridge making machine, a low-noise rock drill, carbon fibre motorbike wheels, and a condom applicator. reporter