Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Student Showcase Archive

Julia Johnson

MA work

MA work

  • The Self-monitoring Honey Bee Hive

    Plan Bee user interaction

    The Self-monitoring Honey Bee Hive, Julia johnson 2014

  • The self-monitoring honey bee hive - Sketches

    The self-monitoring honey bee hive - Sketches, Julia Johnson 2014

  • Murni, Group Project

    Murni, Group Project, Julia Johnson, Hankak Lee & Jewon Kim 2014

  • The self-monitoring honey bee hive

    The self-monitoring honey bee hive, Julia Johnson 2014

Self-monitoring Honey Bee Hive

The self-monitoring honey bee hive tracks for signs in the breeding patterns in the honey comb to detect early signs of diseases.

Every year 35 per cent of the UK’s bees die and the trend is getting worse year on year. But why are bees so important? Despite modern farming innovations we are still reliant on the pollination of bees for the security of over 80 per cent of our food. Predators, pesticides and preventable diseases all contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which makes this problem sound simple. And in lots of ways it is simple; the diseases are mostly curable, government support is available and hive infestations are easy to spot during inspection. But it’s that last bit that makes this problem so difficult. Sure it’s easy to spot these things during inspection but beekeepers just don’t have enough time to inspect hives often enough.

The Government’s National Bee Unit has 99 per cent of beekeepers registered as hobbyists, keeping just a few hives for fun in amongst their busy lives. They don’t have enough time to constantly check the hives to spot problems before a hive is terminally weakened. It’s only at the average fortnightly inspection that they can intervene. But often two weeks is too long and the disease takes over.

Honey comb is everything to bees, not just a place to store honey, but it’s also used to store pollen and water, and it's even used to raise the young. The larvae are laid by the queen bee in allotted ‘brood cells’, to grow from babies into adult bees. Experienced beekeepers will inspect the brood cells for strange patterns, as whatever is happening to the brood determines what will be happening to the whole hive within weeks. But many beekeepers are not experienced; more than half aren’t even registered with the National Bee Unit and so have no support and no easy way to gain this experience.

The self-monitoring honey bee hive is a hive monitoring system that takes advantage of the special ‘early warning’ characteristics of the brood cells. A scanner is used to capture images of the brood daily, these are then digitally analysed for any unusual patterns, if symptoms of sickness are detected the beekeeper is then alerted so they can take the appropriate measures.

To find out more about the project visit the website and come to see me at the RCA show.



  • Julia Johnson
  • MA Degree


    School of Design


    MA Innovation Design Engineering, 2014

  • These past two years have been the most exciting, stressful,  rewarding, and humbling years of my life. Coming to study at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College was a long-awaited dream. A dream to strive to build a stronger foundational knowledge of engineering  while  rubbing shoulders with the best in this hot box of a programme called Innovation Design Engineering, leading to a successfully completed double Masters.

    I’m a doer who loves the challenge of unique, innovative, world changing projects. Industrial design is no longer simply a purely object-oriented styling exercise. The combination of systems, services, engineering and many other disciplines involved in IDE makes it the perfect challenge. The 11 intense projects of the first year pushed us to produce at our best within tight deadlines and served as an excellent learning experience that prepared me for my final year and the major projects. I excel in a wide variety of fields, approaching them with a unique view that pushes existing beliefs and creates well-rounded, thought out results. Individually however, we can only go so far, a strong team is what brings life to the  most ambitious projects.

    My growing skill set now includes team building & management, research, anthropology, creative thinking, concept generation & development, model making, and many more. I have also been able to gain experience from working in a range of companies, including small design consultancies up to large manufacturing organisations like Ford in both Germany and England. With three passports, two sets of A-Levels from Germany and Australia and a travel history of over 40 countries, I truly am an international industrial designer. At heart I’m an adventure seeker, looking for strong creative challenges that will allow the creation of objects and situations that help improve people’s lives. The three columns of sustainability (financial, environmental & social) have been a strong part of my design philosophy but I believe a good project will not just tackle these but also include strong design, engineering and understanding of human needs. After graduation, I intend to  join a team that will drive me to develop further by pushing my skills harder than ever. This way I can add my unique value to both the business I will work for and their customers.

  • Degrees

  • BA Product Design: Sustainable Futures, University of the Creative Arts Farnham, 2009
  • Experience

  • Design engineer, Qbot, London, 2013; Design researcher, Centre for Sustainable Design, Farnham, 2012-13; Freelance designer (clients include Rock Choir, Timesworth Ltd. and Carbon Hero), 2011-13; Junior designer, Wax RDC, Farnham, 2010-11; Design internship, Ford Motor Company, Dunton, 2008
  • Exhibitions

  • Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge, Object Gallery, Sydney, 2013; Winner, RCA Ford Motor Competition, 2013
  • Awards

  • Double UK finalist, James Dyson Award, 2013; Second Prize, Ur Idea Design Competition, 2009; Third Prize, Let's mUve Design Competition, 2008
  • Publications

  • 'Murr-ma Amphibious Prosthesis', Yanko Design, 2013; 'Murr-ma Amphibious Prosthesis', Daily Mail Online, 2013; WIred website, 2013