Bioreactive food expiry label wins UK James Dyson Award (Wired UK)


Solveiga Pakstaite
Solveiga PakstaiteJames Dyson Award


A bioreactive label that becomes
bumpy you when your food’s gone bad has won the UK leg of
the James Dyson
Award

The design by Brunel University student
Solveiga Pakstaite is a much-needed reminder of needless annual
waste in the UK. According to
Love Food Hate Waste
, 15 million tonnes of good food is thrown
away in the UK every year, with half of that waste coming from our
homes. Sell-by dates are rarely the last word in food expiry, yet
plenty of people abide by them and throw away produce that is
perfectly acceptable to consume.

The Bump Mark is Pakstaite’s answer to this problem, which seems
all the more necessary to address in context of global food shortages — earlier this year, the UN warned that we will need to produce 60 percent more food
each year by 2050 to combat the impending crisis and stave off
social unrest. It was chosen from a pool of UK applicants by
industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange (the man behind the Parker
pen, the Kenwood mixer and the London black cab), BBC business
journalist Steph McGovern and 2013 award winner Sam Etherington, who designed a multi-axis wave energy
converter
.

Already 20 prototypes into Bump Mark, Pakstaite has delivered a
simple solution, to tackle the problem. Each label is filled with
gelatine in its solid, set form. Bumps underneath the label can
only be felt once the gelatine starts to decay and liquefy.

In a statement the student and entrepreneur explained: “Why
gelatine? Because it is a protein, so it decays at the same rate as
protein-based foods like pork, milk and cheese. And the gelatine
can be adapted to match the expiry period of the food by altering
the concentration. So, the higher the concentration, the longer the
gel will stay solid. The label simply copies what the food in the
package is doing, so the expiry information is going to be far more
accurate than a printed date.”

It saves on waste, but obviously also on household finances.

Solveiga will receive £2,000 to develop the product and take it
to the international stage of the Dyson Award.
The student appears to already be well ahead of the game and is in
talks with retailers and is looking to file a patent. The
international competition has seen 600 applicants from 18
countries. The overall winner will be awarded £30,000, with £10,000
going to their university department and £5,000 to each
runner-up. 

Pakstaite beat four impressive runnerups: Bruise, a
pressure-sensitive film which shows disabled athletes where injury
may have occurred; Spokefuge, a low-tech centrifuge that makes use
of a bike and its spokes, designed to diagnose anaemia in
developing countries; MOM, an inflatable incubator for premature
babies providing stable heat and light, to be used in refugee
camps; Gravity, a tool for sketching in 3D using augmented
reality.

The shortlisted entries for the international competition will
be announced 16 October, and the winner on 6 November. Last year’s
global winner was Titan
Arm
, a robotic arm used to help
rehabilitate injured individuals developed by a team of mechanical
engineers at the University of
Pennsylvania, while past UK winners have included Etherington’s
wave convertor and Royal College of Art graduate Dan Watson’s SafetyNet (an
LED-lit trawler net that let’s small fish escape).

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18 September 2014 | 12:11 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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