For the first time, visitors to the Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2013 exhibition were invited to vote for their favourite designs to win the Design of the Year 2013 Visitor Vote award. It's clear that the public were won over by heartwarming inventions, with self adjustable Child ViSion glasses and a 3D printed WREX exoskeleton being announced as the top two designs by the Design Museum today, and both winning the Visitors Vote awards. The third Visitors Vote award goes to practical problem-solver LiquiGlide, which resolves that irritating moment when your ketchup gets stuck to the sides of the bottle.
Child ViSion Glasses by The Centre for Vision in the Developing World
The overall winner of the Visitor Vote Design of the Year 2013 award is the Child Vision Glasses, which have been designed to allow children who don't have access to an optician, in developing countries, for example, to change their prescription themselves as their eyesight changes.
These self-adjustable glasses allow the wearer to tweak the lenses until they focus clearly. They're based on are based on a fluid-filled lens technology and have been developed specifically for use by myopic young adults aged from 12-18.
The Child ViSion Glasses won the award with a total of 486 votes, beating other nominations including the Design Museum's official Design of the Year prize winner Gov.uk, The Shard and the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron. Gov.uk was announced as the Design Museum's Design of the Year 2013 winner in April, and was chosen for user experience rather than aesthetics. While Gov.uk probably affects more of our lives than the three winners of the Visitors Vote do - enabling us to renew our car tax or passport, for example - it does so in a less obvious way that doesn't provoke the emotional reaction experienced when witnissing the effects of the Child ViSion Glasses and the WREX. And it's that emotional response that helped these designs secure the top spots and take home the Visitors Votes awards this year.
Designer of the Child ViSion Glasses Professor Josh Silver said: "We are delighted to have won the Visitor Vote. There are two aspects to eyewear, firstly it has to function properly and give you a clear vision, but equally important, it also has to look good! It's great that the public have taken this design to their hearts and voted us their design of the year.
"The Centre for Vision in the Developing World has had some extremely talented engineers and designers working on our Child ViSion Glasses, and our challenge now is to get these glasses to the tens of millions of children whose education is hampered by their inability to see a blackboard in class clearly – a problem our self-refraction glasses will solve."
WREX 'Magic Arms' by duPont Hospital for Children
The second winner of a Design of the Year Visitors Vote award comes from the duPont Hospital for Children, which has been treating children suffering with musculoskeletal disabilities. As part of their research and development, duPont's Department of Orthopedics developed WREX-the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton.
WREX gives kids with muscle weakness much better movement and the ability to lift objects but was too heavy to use on a younger or smaller child. They figured out a wearable plastic jacket could be 3D printed to offer the same aid as WREX but in a mobile form that a child weighing only 25 pounds could wear. It is made using the same plastic used in Lego - it's strong and durable, but it's light. If a part of the WREX breaks, a replacement part can be quickly and easily 3D printed. Plus, the jacket can even be decorated to suit a child's personality, as they will be wearing it every day. In the video above (which certainly provoked an emotional response from us), Emma's WREX has butterflies printed onto it.
LiquiGlide Ketchup Bottle by Dave Smith/Varanasi Research Group MIT
The third and final Visitors Vote goes to the clever LiquiGlide Ketchup Bottle. LiquiGlide is a 'super-slippery', non-toxic, edible but tasteless substance that can be applied to the inside of a bottle, preventing the condiments from sticking to the neck and the bottom where they can't be reached. We imagine this design was received well by the public who have likely struggled with this dilemma before. It was one of those 'why didn't anyone ever think of this before' moments for us when we first saw it.
If you'd like to see these designs, along with the winners of the 'best in class' awards and many other designs across graphics, digital, product, furniture, architecture and transport for yourself, the Designs of the Year 2013 exhibition runs until 7 July at the Design Museum at its current home at Shad Thames on the South Bank, London. In 2013, the museum will be relocating to the old Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Kensington.