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Five Royal College of Art graduate projects have been selected as winners of the 2020 Helen Hamlyn Design Awards. Each project applies design to improve people’s lives and demonstrates the impact people-centred approaches can have across disciplines at the RCA.

The awards were presented to the students on Monday, 12 October at an online awards ceremony as part of the event that launched the Design.Different Week organised by The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. Fourteen projects were shortlisted in the 2020 Awards with the five winners chosen from across the themes of disability, diversity, inclusion, technology and creativity, with a total prize money of £8,000.

The main award categories were sponsored by Snowdon Trust and TATA Consultancy Services (TCS). Helen Hamlyn, founder of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, gave two personal awards for creativity. 

There was also a Fixperts Award which was one by two winning teams: one from Brunel University, England and a team from Holon Institute of Technology, Israel.

The Alumni Awards are awarded to previous Research Associates of the Centre in recognition of their ongoing work in inclusive and people-centre design. Yusuf Muhammad, Director of Plumis and designer on BBC2’s Big Life Fix was awarded the Alumni Award for Social Impact. Megumi Fujikawa, Design Lead, Design Strategy Office, Panasonic was awarded the Alumni Award for Business Impact. 

TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) Award for Digital Inclusion

StaticType by Finlay Duncan

Awarded a prize of £2,000.


Finlay Duncan, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

StaticType is a new typing system for users with physical disabilities. Finlay started looking at this area after seeing the difficulties experienced whilst typing and the lack of options available. The project places a strong emphasis on adaptive design, ensuring the system adapts to the user, and not the other way around. Using a typing style currently constrained to smartphones along with a paired device, StaticType offers improvements in both typing speed and comfort. Early user testing has shown good results, being quick to pick up and enabling typing up to five times faster.

Snowdon Award

Due to this year’s exceptional circumstances, the Snowdon Trust have generously chosen to award two Snowdon Awards, both with a prize of £1,500.

Shir by Neoloufar Taheri


Neloufar Taheri, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Shir is a frugal device designed for mothers in refugee camps that have lost the ability to lactate. One Shir pouch is equivalent to one daily feed, each pouch contains clean drinking water, dried human milk, and a re-lactation aid. Shir utilises freeze-dried technology to dehydrate human donor milk that would otherwise be thrown out and turns it into a powder that can be delivered to mothers in refugee camps. The re-lactation aid helps mothers regain their own breast milk while ensuring their infants are receiving the nutrition they require throughout their transition.

Democratising Healthcare by Lwanga Mayola Tikaka

Democratising Healthcare

Lwanga Mayola Tikaka, MA Architecture 

The project investigates the emergence of the use of data in South Africa’s healthcare system. The research undertook aims to frame the legacy of apartheid town planning, its political and social implications on access to healthcare, and subsequently propose an intervention that allows for alternative medicinal practices. Through the use of AR, the project posits traditional practitioners who have been excluded in South Africa’s healthcare system to contribute to Universal Healthcare. The architecture aims to manage their production and build knowledge regarding their inventory – which in turn is shared amongst them (patients, western and traditional practitioners).

Helen Hamlyn Award for Creativity

This award is chosen personally by Lady Hamlyn from across the shortlisted projects. This year, Lady Hamlyn and the Trust chose two outstanding projects, each receiving a £1,500 prize. 

Sensaura by Sophie Horrocks


Sophie Horrocks, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design

How can we navigate the world without sight? Sensaura is an inclusive design solution to how blind and partially sighted people can navigate the world beyond vision. The wearable design proposes an integrated solution to enable detection, processing and feedback of environmental information needed for navigation. This allows independent, hands-free travel of indoor and outdoor spaces for blind and partially sighted people.

Sensaura’s combined sensors translate visual information into a multi-sensory augmented reality experience of spatial audio and tactile feedback. The wearable could work independently or connect to a wider network of beacons in the environment when GPS is unavailable.

AcrosSilos by Emily Dorazio


Emilia D’Orazio and Saumya Singhal, MA Service Design 

Enabling joined-up approaches within local governments through a set of tested tools and guidance that improve digital information flow and communication between public services, practitioners and local authorities. AcrosSilos is a library that collates service patterns which were co-designed and are being piloted in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The patterns are being used by the council, and have the potential to trigger change in any local authority. They have been co-designed and tested in the borough, resulting in targeted interventions that improve collaboration across the council and services to prevent child neglect.

Shortlisted projects

Anemoi by Siobhan Anderson

Siobhan Anderson, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Anemoi is a platform and interface that enables intelligent wayfinding in wildfire evacuations while considering human behaviour needs and environmental constraints. It is designed to work in tandem with existing alert systems and technology platforms.

Lighthouse by Malvika Bhasin,

Malvika Bhasin
, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design

LightHouse is an engaging tool to facilitate social support between cancer patients and survivors through conversations, gratitude practices and playful interactions.

The Unmentioned by Wenwen Fan

Wenwen Fan
, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design

The Unmentioned is a project aiming to help educate caregivers and the general public about the unmentioned details of Alzheimer’s disease through an immersive AR simulation experience. 

Marian by Ellen Fowles

Ellen Fowles
, MA Fashion

Marian is a capsule collection designed with, and for, my grandmother, Marian Fowles. I have seen first-hand how her ageing and eventual disablement has directly impacted her clothing options, and therefore her sense of identity. Her wardrobe must accommodate her life at home, in hospital, and as an outpatient. This collection displays a dignified, more tailored silhouette than the pyjama or ill-fitting sportswear that many are left with. The garments reject a uniformly stigmatising clinical aesthetic in favour of varied style choices. Therefore, the pieces provide desirable options for adaptive-wear consumers, without conceding function or economic accessibility.

WeAlign by WuQing Hipsh

WuQing Hipsh
, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

WeAlign improves users’ balance from the comfort of their homes by gamifying scientifically proven rehabilitation techniques. Users are empowered by tracking their progress and symptoms. WeAlign makes painful exercises enjoyable, for better balance. WeAlign is inspired by the my mother's struggle with vestibular dysfunction. Extensive user research, experimentation, and literature reviews are central to WeAlign’s evolution. WeAlign brings together design and engineering to help millions live a more balanced life.

Aicatcher by Deepak Mallya

Deepak Mallya
, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Aicatcher: A Camera trap that extends machine intelligence into the wild. Aicatcher is an intelligent camera trap for conservationists and forest officials that brings computer vision and machine intelligence into the wild. It accurately and non-invasively identifies animals and alerts officials on their whereabouts supporting them to prevent needless human-wildlife conflict. The camera trap can also be programmed to identify unauthorised people in forest reserves and notify officials for faster action to counteract poaching.

AiCatcher does not require an internet connection and uses long range radio signals to communicate. The current prototype can identify tigers, leopards and elephants.

Citizens in the Making by Eva Oosterlaken

Eva Oosterlaken
, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design

Citizens in the Making is a digital tool that makes it easier for young people to get involved in civic action. Today, the necessity of citizen participation in democracy and society is more evident than ever.

Although 'official' youth civic engagement statistics are notoriously low, there is a palpable urgency amongst the next generation for acting on behalf of social and environmental issues. In this project, I studied the barriers young people face and found multiple opportunities where design innovation can help. The result: Citizens in the Making makes civic action more fun, personal and relevant to young lives.

Brickman by Mei Sze Tsang

Mei Sze Tsang
, MA Fashion

'One day a man covered in cement sat next to me on the bus, he said he was a bricklayer'.

BRICKMAN is an advanced workwear collection designed for British bricklayers specifically. The whole research was conducted in a construction site with a team of bricklayers in West London, UK between 2019–20. The investigation included studying the movements of their bodies during work, their working environment, their worn work garments, and so on, in order to identify the problems that needed to be solved in their current work garments.

BRICKMAN workwear wants to be the lightest but still durable of protective gear. The design fulfils the regulation of high Visibility clothing performance standards (BS EN 471, CLASS 2) for bricklayers.

Volta by Nacho Vilanova

Nacho Vilanova
, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Volta is a tennis prosthetic designed for transradial amputees who lost their limb as a result of trauma or disease. Volta is the first in its kind to address this issue. It's a versatile prosthetic for arm amputees that allows them to rotate the grip of their racket. This has the potential to create a new category of high-level tennis gameplay. Volta seeks to challenge the negative perception of prosthetics by providing a sense of identity through tennis culture association to its wearer.