New global design challenge to combat isolation
18 May 2020
RS Components (RS) has joined forces with Nordic Semiconductor and the UK's largest gas network operator, Cadent, to launch a global ‘Connect the Community’ competition calling for practical examples of how technology could transform the lives of people in isolation.
Using their network of customers and stakeholders, the three companies hope to engage with creative minds to devise new solutions, and then connect the people behind those solutions with sources of funding that can help make their ideas a reality. The competition is open to engineers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, whatever their technical skill levels.
Product concepts should be driven by low-power wireless technologies such as Bluetooth LE, Thread and Cellular IoT (LTE-M or NB-IoT), be easy to use, and accessible to people in a range of vulnerable circumstances. Ideas could focus on the purely practical, such as new ways to detect hazards in the home, or the fundamental, like ways of maintaining mental and physical fitness, and even the critical, such as raising alarms or requesting support from authorities and utility providers.
Technical skills are useful, but not essential, as the winning designs will be offered product development support by RS and Nordic to bring the concepts to life. Both companies offer free design resources through their online engineering communities: RS’ DesignSpark platform and the Nordic DevZone. In the latter stage of the competition, Cadent will consider the winners for further support to access various funding mechanisms, which, if they are successful, will help them take their ideas through to production and implementation.
Sam Presley, Lead Inspiration Engineer from the Grass Roots team at RS Components, said: “We’re inviting people to think big to transform the lives of those living in isolation. This is a fantastic opportunity for budding innovators to showcase their ideas, skills and ambition – working towards a cause that truly matters.
“By taking part, there is also the potential to win prizes and awards and gain further exposure to companies on the lookout for innovators.
“We’re delighted to offer special support to innovators under the age of 25 through The Youth Group’s Mentor Me programme, which matches young people to business mentors for virtual guidance and advice on entrepreneurship.”
Claire Steed, Regional Sales Manager at Nordic Semiconductor, added, “We don’t want to limit creativity by dictating the scope of the challenge – all we’re stipulating is that solutions must be easy to use and accessible to people in a range of vulnerable circumstances.”
“This competition isn’t just for engineering or design experts. Whether you're a master of digital technology or you simply just have a great idea, we want to hear from you.”
Jo Giles, Cadent Customer Safeguarding Manager, said: “We’re looking for innovators and creatives to make the most of the lockdown and to come up with inventions that will help transform the lives of the isolated in regard to both their physical and mental wellbeing.
“Typically, we may think of people who are elderly or ill as being most affected by isolation, however, the coronavirus pandemic has shown how anyone can become isolated by circumstances. We’re on the hunt for innovative solutions that can help people stay safe, warm and connected as they remain in their home.”
The ‘Connect the Community’ challenge is hosted on RS Components’ engineering platform DesignSpark, which has a global engineering community of over 950,000 members.
For more information and to submit ideas, go to https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/connect-the-community. The closing date for submissions is 09:00 GMT on Friday 3 July 2020.
RS has also launched its STEM Extraordinary Engineering Challenge, which tasks schoolchildren in the UK to design an engineering solution to address global social and environmental issues. Further information on this can be found at https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/extraordinary-engineering-challenge.
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