Five years ago, the Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition resulted with the introduction of several new and innovative life jacket designs to the public, the US Coast Guard and recreational boating industry. Since then, the interest in new, more comfortable designs has not faded. While current models of life jackets save lives every day, many are still bulky and uncomfortable, leaving boaters reluctant to wear them.
So the BoatUS Foundation, along with Underwriters Laboratories and the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturer’s Association, decided another competition was necessary to keep the momentum going to seek out the newest technologies and design innovations that could rethink a 100-year-old design.
“We all have the mindset of what a life jacket looks like — and that’s what we need to be challenging,” said Underwriters Laboratories’ Joe Waters. Entries that embrace new technologies and non-traditional thinking are being encouraged from armchair inventors to high school science clubs and collegiate design programs. There are no rules regarding types of materials to be used or whether the design meets any current US standards. The deadline to enter is February 1, 2011.
The entries will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation. “Wearability” relates to the level of comfort. “Reliability” will take into account the chances for potential failure, while “cost” will look at the affordability of the design. “Innovation” will take into account originality or the employment of new technologies.
In early February, video of all entries will be posted online at the BoatUS Foundation’s channel at YouTube.com, and the public will be asked to select a group of finalists. The finalist entries will then be reviewed by a special panel of judges convened at the International Boating and Water Safety Summit in Savannah, Georgia, on March 6-9, 2011, and the winner announced. A $5,000 cash award goes to the winning designer.
“We believe that out-of-the-box thinking may lead to the next generation of life-saving devices,” said BoatUS Foundation President Ruth Wood. “We anticipate designs that will be creative and unconventional.”
To enter, video footage of an actual working prototype must be submitted by providing a URL link to the video (no actual prototypes are submitted). The video must clearly demonstrate how the design floats a person in the water. For more information on how to enter and for contest rules, visit www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/lifejacketdesign. You may also contact Chris Edmonston at 703-823-9550, x8356