Duo win highest honor at Red Dot Design Awards

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - Page 1

A design to provide an emergency communication system in the wake of natural disasters was awarded a Red Dot Luminary, the highest honor of the Red Dot Design Awards, at this year’s award presentation ceremony in Singapore on Friday.

The “Float Base Station,” a mobile communication device designed by graduate students Huang Pin-jen (黃品甄) and Huang Hsin-ya (黃新雅) of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, is the first Taiwanese design to win the highest distinction, which is given to honor the best concept at the competition.

“We had not thought much about winning the prize before coming to Singapore,” the duo said. “We were already very happy to win an award.”

Their design was among the entries to receive a Red Dot Best of the Best Award in the design concept category at the annual German design competition, which also includes a contest for product design and one for communication design.

“Float Base Station” is a device that can be airdropped into an area during an emergency and is equipped with a type of balloon that can transmit communication signals, according to the designers.

The invention was created because Taiwan is often affected by natural disasters, such as typhoons and earthquakes. With the device, which can also generate electricity using the wind, people trapped in disaster areas can send out SOS signals with on-hand communication equipment, Huang Hsin-ya said.

“The design came from a desire to care for Taiwanese society,” Huang Pin-jen said.

This year, more than 3,672 entries from 57 countries were submitted to the design concept competition. A total of 217 concepts were awarded a Red Dot Award, with 46 receiving Best of the Best awards.

Ken Koo, president of Red Dot Asia, praised Taiwanese people’s improving design capabilities.

A growing number of Taiwanese designs have participated in or won international competitions in recent years, and many of their designs make aspects of life easier or more connected, he said.

Apart from “Float Base Station,” another Taiwanese design, “Add Up” by Deng Pei-chih (鄧培志) and Hsieh Tsai-ni (謝采倪) of National Taipei University of Technology, was also nominated for the Luminary award.

“Add Up” is a system that allows spare foreign currency to be put to good use. Coins and notes brought back from abroad can be used to pay for Skype points or donated to charity, the designers explained.