Aussie Designer’s Long-Distance Life Preserver Wins James Dyson Award

Ready, aim, lifesaver! Longreach, which shoots an emergency buoyancy aid up to 500 feet out to sea, has bested 14 other problem-solving shortlisted designs to win this year’s James Dyson Award. Australian designer Sam Adeloju (at right) and his alma mater, the University of New South Wales, will each receive $15,000. U.S. student Kimberley Hoffman earned second place honors for her Sea Kettle, which uses natural sunlight to desalinate water in an emergency life raft, while Swiss design grads Lars Imhof and Marc Binder took third place for their Reax resuscitation device. All four top finishers will receive a visit to the Dyson research and development centers in either the United Kingdom or Malaysia.

“Longreach is a smart solution to a very real problem,” said James Dyson in a statement announcing the winner. “A product’s functionality couldn’t be more important when it’s used to save someone’s life.” Longreach is a handheld launcher powered by oxygen and butane, capable of firing a self-inflating flotation device over long distances to people at risk of drowning. It is made of hydrophobic foam that rapidly expands upon hitting the water to protect the buoyancy aid from puncture. “After learning about propulsion technology in grenade launchers, I had to find a chemical that would expand to forty times its size in just fifteen seconds upon hitting water,” said Adeloju, who lives in Sydney. “After four months of testing, I found that hydrophobic foam worked and soon after the concept for Longreach was developed.” Adeljou plans to use his winnings to develop prototype and continue testing. He is already in talks with the Surf Life Saving Australia and Westpac Rescue—an aeromedical search and rescue service—to mass produce his invention.