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Dyson Awards Finalists include University of Waterloo Pair

eyecheckThe James Dyson Foundation, named for the inventor of the Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, has whittled its Award list from over 600 entrants down to a final 20, including a pair of techs from the University of Waterloo.

The award is meant to encourage students to engage in the field of design engineering, presenting finalists straightforwardly as solvers of real-world problems.

Suncayr, represented by University of Waterloo students Derek Jouppi, Rachel Pautler, Andrew Martinko, Chad Sweeting and Hayden Soboleski, is a colour changing marker that can be drawn on skin and changes colour when sunscreen is no longer working and the user needs to reapply.

EyeCheck, inaugural participants in the Velocity Foundry hardware development lab, represented by Ashutosh Syal and Daxal Desai, solves the problem of providing prescriptions for millions of people in the developing world using a smartphone app, standalone camera and server-side image processing.

Nick Schneider, Dyson design engineer and one of the judges said, “The EyeCheck team have managed to engineer an affordable way of diagnosing eye problems quickly, potentially improving quality of life for many.”

Eyeglasses, one of humanity’s established technological triumphs, still lie out of reach for many whose lives would be immeasurably improved with proper diagnosis and prescription.

Ashutosh Syal and Daxal Desai started working on EyeCheck when their third-year engineering professsor challenged the class to come up with a solution for millions in the developing world who lack access to eyeglasses.

In researching the subject, they learned that most people with vision problems in the developing world visited what are called eye camps, makeshift diagnosis tents staffed by optometrists who help as many as they can.

“The two of us cannot imagine our lives without the ability to see clearly and we feel everyone should have access to clear vision to take on the challenges they face daily,” said Ashutosh in EyeCheck’s pitch.

EyeCheck is a standalone smart phone application that provides quick diagnosis at half the time and price of typical eye tests.

From 20 finalists, from 18 countries, an award winner will be announced on November 6.

The winner will receive $46,000, plus $18,000 for their university, and support for continuing to develop their product towards a prototype solution.

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