Safety Products Top IHA Student Design Competition

The safety and security of seniors, children and the disabled in their homes were key issues addressed by winning entries in the International Housewares Association’s recent 26th annual Student Design Competition.

Purdue University senior Hannah Ferrill, and National University of Singapore graduate Kevin Chiam Yong Sheng, won first place respectively for the HearNoEvil Home Security System for the hearing impaired, and the Folks Kitchenware for the blind. Sheng is the first student from a university outside the U.S. to take the top prize.

The competition’s challenge to college students is to redesign a current housewares product to meet the needs of the future or to create a concept for a new product. Winning projects are selected for their innovation, understanding of production and marketing principles, and quality of entry materials.

HearNoEvil connects to the household security system through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and utilizes colored lights that project alerts on the ceiling and a bed shaker to alert the hearing-impaired to intruders, fires and natural disasters. The unit also doubles as a wireless, rechargeable hearing aid station so older users never have to fumble with small batteries at night.

Folks Kitchenware for the blind leverages natural, sensory feedback and tactile cues to empower visually impaired individuals to enjoy cooking. The knife features a retractable guard which serves as a physical anchor, guides the fingers during the cutting process and allows clean-up of the knife with a simple trigger. The set also includes a chopping board with a side tray that acts as an extension of the hand to gather and efficiently transfer ingredients with less spillage, and a teaspoon with an integrated buoy. When placed in a cup of liquids, the floating buoy informs the user of impending contact with liquids and helps lower the risk of scalds or burns.

First place winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show, March 2-5. Joining Ferrill and Sheng are two second- and two third-place winners who will share $5,500 in prize money.

Altogether, there were 280 entries from 45 schools in the U.S. and 18 other countries.