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Innovation Watch

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  • Design & manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Innovation Watch

The manual washing machine for low-income communities

UK-based social enterprise The Washing Machine Project has developed a manual washing machine designed to help people in displaced and off-grid communities do their laundry.

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A Black woman with brown, tied up hair is wearing a black protective sports headband and a black t-shirt. Her face is tilted upwards and she is looking to the left of the camera
  • Health & medical
  • Sports & leisure
  • Innovation Watch

The headband reducing the risk of brain injury

Halos is a sports headband for concussion and sub-concussion protection, which will benefit people playing in sports where head impacts occur, such as football, rugby, and hockey.

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A demonstration of a millimetre-sized camera on a probe in a model of the cervix and uterus.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 97

Making vital diagnostics more accessible

Delayed access to hysteroscopies in South Africa is causing patients unnecessary distress and health risks. With a new medical device, Cape Town-based startup FlexiGyn is working to make the procedure mobile, affordable and pain-free.

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View of planet Earth from space, being orbited by a satellite harvesting solar power
  • Aerospace
  • Innovation Watch

Generating solar energy from space

Renewable solar energy harvested from space could help us to meet net zero by putting large arrays of photovoltaic panels in orbit to send solar energy down to Earth.

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A man sitting at a table, holding a prototype of a prosthetic hand based on the classic 'split hook' style
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 95

Making prosthetics without compromise

Prosthetics for upper limb differences often involve a choice between something user-friendly and affordable, or aesthetically pleasing. University of Strathclyde-based startup Metacarpal is trying to bring all three elements together with a new body-powered prosthetic hand.

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  • Aerospace
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch

How AI can help 3D print perfect plane parts

Finding and correcting 3D printing errors is especially tough in the aerospace sector: a part with even a 300-micron defect could be catastrophic.

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An aerial photo of a wind farm producing renewable energy, which is used by electrolysers to make green hydrogen.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Energy
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 96

The clean energy pioneers

Ceres Power have found a way to make green hydrogen – thought to be an essential part of our energy transition – at scale.

  • Design & manufacturing
  • Chemical
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch

Kicking single-use plastics to the curb

This spider-silk inspired plastic alternative produces no plastic alternatives – unlike existing "compostable" plastics.

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A computer display, whose interface can guide a robotic arm with a magnetic appendage above a model of the colon.
  • Health & medical
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 94

Perfecting pain-free colonoscopies

Researchers are developing magnetically guided robotic instruments to make colonoscopies less painful for patients.

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  • Civil & structural
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch

The sensors making cities and structures smarter

UtterBerry’s matchbox-sized sensors form a network, akin to the human body’s sensory system, that provides early warning when maintenance might be needed or damage repaired.

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  • Civil & structural
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch

The startup purifying water in partnership with low-income communities

Access to clean water is a fundamental human need, yet hundreds of millions worldwide go without it. Cambridge-based social enterprise Blue Tap has one solution – a low-cost device that purifies water by precisely injecting chlorine into a local water supply.

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  • Technology & robotics
  • Sports & leisure
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 93

Bend it like a simulated avatar

The world's top free-kick-takers can curve a football in a way the goalkeeper can’t anticipate. Training to save these is no easy task. Now, Belfast startup INCISIV just might have a helping hand for goalies, with an ultra-programmable virtual reality technology.

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  • Arts & culture
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch

How AI can unearth archaeological sites

Humans from long ago have left all kinds of marks on landscapes. An AI tool from startup ArchAI, could help find these ancient traces.

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  • Environment & sustainability
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 92

Imaging the plastic recycling process

Chemical engineer Dr Kit Windows-Yule is using an innovative imaging technique to improve the chemical process of breaking plastics down into oil.

Ryan Mario Yasin in the studio behind a desk. He holds a ruler over his clothing designs and clothing samples can be seen on the desk in front of him.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Arts & culture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 91

Clothes that grow with children

By the time they reach the age of two, babies go through seven clothing sizes, only adding to the fashion industry’s impact on the planet. London-based Petit Pli is on a mission to lessen the burden, with childrenswear that grows with the wearer.

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A woman with an afro standing in front of three specialist detangler combs.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 90

The afro hair comb inspired by printing

Swansea-based engineer Dr Youmna Mouhamad is using her R&D experience to invent a hair comb designed to make looking after textured hair easier and less painful.

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A photograph of individual bike parts.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 89

Machining titanium components

Titanium has a high tensile strength and is light in weight but notoriously difficult to work with. Ed Mason has developed a way to machine the metal and has built a reputation for producing high-end custom-made parts for titanium bicycles.

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A person taking a live image of themselves with their phone. Their face can be seen behind the phone and also in the front screen of the phone taking a photograph.
  • Software & computer science
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 88

Remote and secure ID verification

Charlette N’Guessan is an Ivorian tech entrepreneur who is passionate about solving local challenges with technology. She used her software engineering background to launch BACE API, a digital identity verification system currently being used in financial services in West Africa.

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Six blocks of varying height showing the various stages and consistency of product between seaweed and sustainable packaging.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 87

Edible packaging

Half of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away. Notpla has developed sustainably sourced seaweed packaging to hold liquids, which decomposes in less than six weeks.

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A pair of glasses made from food waste on a stand.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Arts & culture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 86

From food waste to fashion

Chip[s] Board is turning potato peel into sustainable bioplastics for the fashion and interior design industries to simultaneously tackle the problems of food waste and plastic pollution.

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The HICI box that is lit up with green and placed on the dashboard of a car, with a blurry countryside road in the background.
  • Maritime & naval
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 85

Traffic lights for the tide

The Holy Island Causeway Indicator is a small gadget that lights up to show visitors whether the causeway is safe at a glance, helping prevent people getting stranded due to flooding.

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Sorin Poppa sitting on a chair at a workbench, holding the Pathfinder ePATH catheter kit which is attached to wires on his workbench.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 84

Reducing surgeries for dialysis patients

Pathfinder Medical has invented a minimally invasive catheter guidance technology that will improve clinical outcomes for patients across the globe.

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  • Design & manufacturing
  • Civil & structural
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 83

Another brick in the wall

With natural resources running low, Scottish engineers have created a brick that uses more than 90% recycled building materials.

A pregnant women lying down on a hospital bed, talking to a nurse. The women is wearing the Monica Novii wireless patch system on her belly
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 82

Wireless foetal monitor

The Monica Novii wireless patch system is a wearable device for women in labour that continuously monitors the baby’s heartbeat. It has won many obstetric and engineering awards, including the Campbell Mitchell Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

  • Software & computer science
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 81

Darktrace, an immune system for computers

Darktrace has developed AI software designed to detect and defend against cyber threats from within computer networks – an immune system for computers.

Brian Mwenda holding the sixth sense device and standing next to a visually impaired person smiling holding a white cane outside the gates of Kenya's Institute for the Blind.
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 80

Echo-location for navigation

The Sixth Sense is a handheld device that uses echo-location and haptic feedback to help people with visual impairments and blindness get about safely.

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The A-Ultra handheld device resting against a helmet displaying the words '100% complete no damage' on it's screen.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 79

Ultrasonic armour inspection

A-Ultra is a portable device that uses sensors to check body armour for damage in just 10 seconds, saving time and money and making such inspections simple in even remote locations.

  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 78

Robots in the field

Four years ago, three engineers began developing a robot designed to autonomously pick and sort strawberries. Three designs later, the first group of 24 robots is reaching UK fields this summer. The robots will navigate the crops and select ripe fruit, before picking, inspecting and packing the strawberries.

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Two hands playing the ROLI instrument, stretched out across the silicon touchpad.
  • Arts & culture
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 77

A new way to make music

A team of engineers has developed a range of instruments that is changing the way people make music. ROLI combines digital technologies and pressure-sensitive silicone so that users can generate sounds with the lightest touch.