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RCA2020: Future technologies and innovations for better living

Across the RCA, the class of 2020 have utilised technologies in innovative ways to create new aesthetic possibilities and help solve pressing problems, from those caused by rapid urbanisation to ongoing healthcare challenges. While new technologies offer solutions to keep us better connected, our graduates also take a critical look at how we live with them, from our interactions with AI and intelligent systems, to ways we can better understand how our data is put to use. 

1. Nacho Vilanova, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

woman with prosthetic arm holds tennis racket
Volta, Nacho Vilanova 2020
Current prosthetics for tennis playing arm amputees tend to have two issues: a fixed grip and a wrong directional angle to support the racket. This can cause injury and reduces comfort, control and power over the ball. Nacho’s designVolta is a versatile prosthetic that addresses these issues and has the potential to create a new category of high-level tennis gameplay by allowing arm amputees to rotate the grip of their racket.

2. Malvika Bhasin, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design 

Lighthouse cancer patient app
LightHouse, Malvika Bhasin 2020
The cancer journey is a physically and mentally exhausting one where social support makes a significant contribution to a patient’s quality of life. LightHouse facilitates social support between cancer patients and survivors through conversations, gratitude practices and playful interactions. The app connects cancer survivors and patients globally to cater to the psychosocial and emotional aspects of cancer.

3. Tarik Helmy, MA Service Design

dementia care app
Carify, Tarik Helmy 2020
Carify is a peer led education and support service that equips family carers for those with dementia with information and tools. It combines a two day training course focused on key aspects of dementia care; an app to record and track changes in their condition, take corrective actions when needed and share more accurate information with doctors and other professionals; and a digital assistant to effectively schedule and manage care related activities between different individuals.

4. Guorong Luo, MA Design Products

person looked at through AI
Domesticated Domesticator, Guorong Luo 2020
Domesticated Domesticator is a prediction for the future of AI embedded objects. It shifts from a human-centric approach to the perspective of an object, prompting a critical reflection on the design discourse surrounding AI and physical objects. This playful approach provokes consideration of how smart objects might adapt to domesticate humans of their own accord.

5. Jaz Affleck, MA Information Experience Design

Amalgam, Jaz Affleck 2020
Jaz has developed several projects that merge physical and digital technologies, highlighting the importance of touch and expanding the possibilities of the digital world. One of these projects Amalgam, encodes a treasured object with images and information that reinforces its sentimental value. This digital data is physically printed onto the object by ultraviolet absorbing ink. The object can then be scanned by a UV camera and the data is decoded and projected onto an ephemeral liquid lens, so that both object and data are read simultaneously.

6. Anabel García-Kurland, MA Architecture

app visualisation
Reclaiming Idleness, Anabel García Kurland 2020
Anabel García-Kurland noticed that data tracking and recommendations through apps such as Spotify and Facebook had resulted in a filter bubble in which she was only fed content that aligned with her interests and activities. In response to this, she has created an app for idleness that attempts to break users free from the algorithms that surreptitiously influence our lives and the spaces we inhabit.

7. Bryony Applegate, MA Ceramics & Glass

Piped Lighting, Bryony Applegate 2020
Bryony Applegate has focused on material-led thinking and innovative processes to create a collection of lighting for the home and tableware for Michelin star restaurants. For both collections she experimented with piping porcelain, pushing the technique to create unique, minimalist designs that utilise contrasting qualities such as colour, material and finish to create eye-catching objects for restaurants, hotels or the home.

8. Mi Zhou, MA Textiles

Designed to be worn while running, walking or exploring, Mi Zhou’s activewear is transformed by the sound of birds. Sensors in the smart fabric record bird song, sending data to a textile interface that responds with different patterns and colours, as well as keeping track of the species heard, which can be reviewed after a run. The concept combines physical exercise with the mental benefits of experiencing nature, and an increased awareness of biodiversity. 

9. Kevin Chiam, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

air purification
Airtomo, Kevin Chiam
We are often unaware of the dangers of pollutants on underground transport that are invisible to the naked eye. Inspired by how rain cleans the air, Airtomo wearables and modules release dry, atomised water vapour to remove these pollutants. Water droplets bind harmful particles to form large, heavy aggregates which fall to the ground removing pollutants from the air.

Head to RCA2020 to see more from this year's graduates.