Packing it all in: Students design new products for hand-luggage only travel

8 May 2017
Image of judges at Queen Mary University of London Left to right: Dr Robin Kent, Morag Hutcheon, Professor Rob Holdway, Mike Stuart, Richard Brown (Chairman of judging panel), Alex Hanson, Mandy Haberman

A few decades ago the majority of holidays were purchased as a package, with travel companies organising all the flights, transfers, accommodation and food. Today, with cheaper airfares and tools such as price comparison websites, it is even more popular for holidaymakers to book each part of the journey independently.  

Travel to all corners of the world is now more prevalent and accessible. There are still great challenges on trips to far-flung places, but these can be easily managed with the correct luggage and travel products. In addition, comfort on long journeys, such as those by air, can be improved with innovative design. As an increasing number of people are only travelling with hand luggage, there is a need for more products to be compact and multifunctional.

Six talented university students specialising in product and design-related subjects have come up with new ways of making travel easier. 

Their products were chosen after being whittled down from an original record submission of 166 entries, to be the finalists in the 2017 Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) competition, headline sponsored by Covestro.

Organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining and the Worshipful Company of Horners, the competition is sponsored and supported by market leaders in the fields of design and innovation.

The competition brief, ‘Products for Independent Travel’, challenged students to design an innovative product, primarily in plastic, that will provide a more comfortable and less stressful travel experience. After two days of sifting and scrutiny of all the entries the shortlisted students were announced as follows:

Ellen Britton, Product Design Engineering, Glasgow School of Art: ‘Peek’ interactive travel sunshade for entertaining bored and restless children.                                                   

Kayleigh Dobson, Product Design, University of Central Lancashire: ‘AirBaby’ portable, inflatable lap seat. 

Russell Kilgour,  Product Design Engineering, Glasgow School of Art: ‘Nomad’ travel camera bag.

Aidan Smith, Design for Industry, Northumbria University:  ‘Pedlock’ bicycle pedal with integral lock.

Monique Spoerri, Product & Furniture Design, De Montfort University: ‘Light therapy face mask’ that counteracts the effects of jet lag.

Dom Tindale, Design for Industry, Northumbria University:  ‘Skin Watch’, a wristband that reminds travellers to reapply sun cream to prevent sun burn.

The students are currently refining their products, having received feedback from the judges, to present them at the final selection day on May 19. The overall winner will be decided and the result announced at a ceremony in London on June 30.

Chairman of the judges, Richard Brown, managing director of RJG Technologies Ltd, said:  “We were most impressed with both the inventiveness and creativity of the finalists as well as the approach they took.  It made judging challenging but ultimately very satisfying. Nevertheless, it was a pity that some designs could not be considered, either because of a failure to adhere to the brief or a lack of originality."

Covestro design engineer, Mike Stuart, said: “The finalists have clearly thought through their designs and shown that they are familiar with their market.  One or two ideas were clever in their simplicity, and just need developing a little further, and in one case where an idea was not in itself totally new, the student has found a new application which has made it novel, and helps satisfy the competition criteria.”