Inflatable incubators, lifejacket bombs and more life-changing and life-saving innovations (pictures)

A life-saving inflatable incubator and a method of converting deadly cluster bombs to save lives instead are among the innovations vying for this year's James Dyson Award.

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
1 of 32

FireArc gets rid of the problem of expiry dates for fire extinguishers by storing the required chemicals as bicarbonate salts and concentrated acid that don't react to each other. Only with a simple twist of the handle are the substances activated, reacting together like Mentos and Diet Coke to fight the fire.

2 of 32

MOM is an inflatable incubator designed to decrease the number of premature child deaths in refugee camps. Providing a stable heat environment, humidification, and jaundice lighting, MOM uses very little power and can be run from available sources such as a car battery. Designer James Roberts reckons the MOM incubator can be manufactured, tested and delivered to the camp all for £250 as opposed to the £30,000 cost of a standard incubator.

3 of 32

Salire adds extra wheels attached to the front of a wheelchair to make it easier to mount a kerb.

4 of 32

The WASP electrical wheelchair has a retractable chassis to shift between slow, precise mode and a faster speed. The carbon composite body contains two removable lithium-ion batteries, a collapsible and removable seat, and two wheel hub motors as found in new electric bicycles. It's pretty badass.

5 of 32

Shorvac is a vacuum cleaner for cleaning coastlines of everyday rubbish or after an environmental disaster. The cleaning unit is attached to a six-legged robot that follows the user across even the most rugged terrain.

6 of 32

CashTrolley reinvents the supermarket shopping experience. You enter your shopping list on the touchscreen and the smart cart directs you through the store to find them in the best order. You scan the bar code of each item as you drop it in the trolley. The scale on the bottom of the cart checks afterwards that it is the right article, essentially making this a self-service checkout on wheels.

7 of 32

Useful for the elderly or people in hot countries, the th2O Medical Bracelet uses bio-impedancemetry technology to test electrical current in your body and evaluate hydration levels. When you're dehydrated or haven't had a drink for a while, the bracelet beeps and vibrates. Once you've had a drink, you can record it on the bracelet.

8 of 32

This medication management system is a container of tablets for those taking multiple medications, discreetly hidden in a book and lighting up when it's time to take your medication.

9 of 32

Pinch is a bracelet enabling people suffering from chronic pain to record pain levels throughout the day, as well as pulse rate, drug consumption, physical activity level and quality of sleep.

10 of 32

Dote is a smart nightlight and baby monitor that collects data on your child's movements as they sleep, sending that data to your phone and allowing you to adjust the light settings, music or a soothing heartbeat to help your child sleep.

11 of 32

Sea Burial+ is developed by Raymond Hon from Singapore to address the problem of limited space for burial. It consists of a water soluble urn that spins while sinking, so it sinks on a fixed trajectory and thus remains in place. The GPS co-ordinates are then saved in an app that shows where many people have over time been buried at sea.

12 of 32

As cars, trucks and trains rumble by shaking windows and walls, this system harvests energy from the vibrations of our cities and towns and uses Piezo devices to convert that pressure and movement into electricity.

13 of 32

Rizal combines cultures by bringing together spoon, fork and chopsticks.

14 of 32

Jellyhat. It makes a shampoo at the hairdressers' a less messy business. And it's called Jellyhat.

15 of 32

This emergency escape device for climbers, mountain rescue workers and soldiers allows rescue workers to quickly escape from a rope that's dragging them into a dangerous situation, or for fast-roping soldiers to detach instantly from a rope and move to cover. Unlike a conventional carabiner it can be removed even when your weight is on the rope, with a safety pin preventing accidental detachment.

16 of 32

Luna is a handy kitchen device for helping the visually-impaired to safely chop food.

17 of 32

Bump label helps the elderly, visually-impaired or naturally reckless to tell if food is safe to eat. A gelatine coating decays at a similar pace as the food in the packet, allowing you to tell the condition your food is in simply by running your finger over the label. If it’s smooth, then chow down, but if you start to feels bumps as the gelatin breaks down then maybe it's time for another trip to the market.

18 of 32

Cookme is a smart saucepan.

19 of 32

All aboard! Freeflow lets the train take the strain by rethinking the design of a train carriage. The doors are shifted so they aren't opposite each other, spreading passengers more evenly through the train. Free seats light up when they're unoccupied so you can spot a space even when the train is busy.

20 of 32

Why has no-one thought of this before? Radfan directs heat from a radiator so you warm up quicker.

21 of 32

Swiss optician Adrian Gögl wants to 3D scan your nose and 3D-print these bespoke Oak and Dust glasses so they fit perfectly. They're also partly made of cork, which is pretty hipster.

22 of 32

Pop bags, developed by Swiss designer Alexia Pache, are water-resistant bags that you unzip and unfold so they become much bigger and hold more stuff -- useful for shopping or trips to the gym.

23 of 32

Anna glasses are produced by thermoforming acetone for a less wasteful production process.

24 of 32

Not much room on your balcony or patio? This drying rack table dries your clothes without wasting your outdoor space.

25 of 32

Crotalus is an ergonomic gaming keypad designed to frag De Quervain’s syndrome, also known as "Gamer’s thumb." Instead of lying flat on a desk, the keys are raised up so you can button-bash without putting unnatural stress on your forearms, wrist and hands.

26 of 32

Workers in disaster areas need to look after themselves too. These are some of the concept sketches for an aid worker kit that includes a water bottle with a solar-powered filter inside the lid to rid water of plastic, bacteria and even blood so workers can drink from any water source, even a puddle. It can also be used as a basic shower. With it is a food hub, designed to store dehydrated food, and collect solar energy to charge your mobile phone.

27 of 32

Africabike is a sturdy bike for the developing world built with local parts that can be used by children to ride miles to school with one or two passengers on the back, and then carry water, food or heavy goods too.

28 of 32

This parasite elimination system is a foot-washing device for the developing world to eliminate diseases transferred on the feet, such as hookworm and ringworm.

29 of 32

The Study Bright lamp is a low-power desk light for children in Africa to continue studying in the evening even when power isn't available. It uses the heat from a candle to power a flywheel, moving magnets to generate electricity and power three LEDs that give out 40 to 60 lumens.

30 of 32

The Infinity oven is a solar-powered oven for the developing world made from recycled oil drums.

31 of 32

Saving lives rather than taking them, Helpster repurposes BLU-97 cluster bombs to rescue people from drowning in shipwrecks, as jets launch a missile that splits open and drops hundreds of lifejackets.

32 of 32

In the event of disaster like an earthquake, people can take refuge in the LifeBall, a truncated icosahedron -- like a soccer ball -- built on a stainless steel skeleton strong enough to hold up under rubble. Preserved food, drinking water, first aid equipment and tools are stored inside. An alarm and a phone connection alert rescuers to the LifeBall, with sensors inside testing the air and switching from the air conditioner to an oxygen capsule if necessary.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
17 Hidden iOS 17 Features You Should Definitely Know About
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features You Should Definitely Know About

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos