March 27, 2023

Yearly, the James Dyson Award (JDA) gathers up design engineering college college students to submit and pitch their improvements that clear up an issue.

This yr’s innovators needed to observe the theme of both constructing inclusive consciousness for autism, or managing marine plastic waste and biodiversity.

Out of the 138 SEA entries to the JDA this yr, Malaysia contributed with the best quantity at 83 entries in whole.

Vulcan Submit was as soon as once more invited to a digital roundtable interview to satisfy this yr’s Malaysian nationwide winner, MA-Pencil. It’s a multifunctional pencil to assist kids with Autism Spectrum Dysfunction (ASD) discover ways to write independently.

MA-Pencil was designed by Le Qi, a ultimate yr industrial design scholar from College Sains Malaysia (USM).

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

Observing a studying incapacity

Whereas gripping a pencil would possibly look like a straightforward job to many, it may be a difficult one for kids with autism. This, in flip, can vastly affect their confidence.

On the digital roundtable interview, Le Qi shared that the youngsters would grip a pencil with their whole fist, struggling to know the idea of learn how to maintain pencils in any other case.

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

Le Qi, who informed Vulcan Submit that she’s keen about serving to kids with ASD, made this statement throughout a digital go to to a particular wants residence that’s native to her college.

“By probability, this chance was offered by my lecturer at USM and it gave me the impetus to be taught extra about this frequent developmental dysfunction,” she stated. 

She introduced up her realisation to the centre’s supervisors and lecturers, and was compelled to assist the group along with her design background. 

Getting the best grip

MA-Pencil is a multifunctional pencil set to information kids with autism to jot down and draw independently with the best grip.

It leverages a weighted silicon gripper that may be tweaked to adapt to the kid’s studying levels, coaching their sensory-motor abilities.

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

The newbie stage helps the kid’s finger placement when holding the pencil. 

Deliberately designed to have a curved floor, textured traces and circles on the gripper will information its customers towards the primary stage of pencil-gripping. 

As soon as customers have tailored to the gripping stance, they’ll transfer on to the adapting stage. Right here, the gripper may be turned 180 levels to assist the fingers, whereas establishing the proper technique to maintain the pencil.

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

Lastly, the mature stage is the place the gripper attachment may be eliminated altogether, and MA-Pencil can be utilized like a daily pencil. 

A toddler can “graduate” from the MA-Pencil at any time, relying on their particular person progress, to lastly transfer on to utilizing a daily pencil independently.

A pencil that encourages studying 

As kids with ASD have a brief consideration span, they typically be taught at a slower tempo than regular kids. 

Therefore, MA-Pencil can be designed to domesticate ASD kids’s curiosity by way of 10-second alternating audio producing the sound of mammal animals to encourage its consumer. 

Constructed-in audio system are additionally positioned on the pencil’s varied cap shapes which can be designed to appear to be the trunk of an elephant, the tail of a tiger, and the ears of a rabbit. They’ll all be switched out relying on the consumer’s choice.

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

Nonetheless, kids with ASD are recognized to be distracted or overwhelmed by noise, main me to marvel what Le Qi’s rationale was for together with animal noises with the MA-Pencil.

“From my statement, autistic kids are likely to pay extra consideration and react to sounds,” she acknowledged. Whereas they do get distracted and overwhelmed, it’s often because of loud and sudden noises, reminiscent of shouting, TV noises, and avenue noises. 

“With that in thoughts, the thought of utilizing mammal sounds got here pure to me, as they have been calming but repetitive, so, being performed by the speaker, can be a reassuring tone to help kids with ASD [on focusing] whereas utilizing the pencil,” Le Qi defined.

The audio can entice the eye of kids with autism to construct curiosity within the merchandise and inspire them to persistently maintain the pen.

Sketching out the larger plan

Le Qi’s quick plan is to proceed growing the prototype and enhance its design to be extra enticing and sensible for customers.

“There’s nonetheless an extended technique to go earlier than the entire invention is accomplished and launched for public use. However I don’t rule out the potential of finishing the invention and dealing with the centres and communities sooner or later,” she hoped. 

Picture Credit score: MA-Pencil

Le Qi shared that it’s a dream of hers to know that MA-Pencil can assist kids in want, as her aim is to assist kids with ASD really feel relaxed with their studying difficulties, particularly in writing. 

“Not solely would the pencil right their studying behaviour nevertheless it might assist them to benefit from the writing course of,” Le Qi hypothesised. 

Right here’s what the runners-up had in retailer

Apart from the nationwide profitable design, the 2 runners-up had attention-grabbing innovations focused at decreasing microplastic air pollution at sea, and enhancing the usability of an present product.

Whalecro consists of Velcro-like filters to hook microplastics within the ocean / mage Credit score: Whalecro

Impressed by the widespread microplastic air pollution downside that’s turning into extra obvious by the day, Whalecro is an underwater propulsion car.

It’s designed to select up microplastics via a collection of motor-powered filters made with a Velcro strap. This hook-like floor will trigger microplastics to latch onto it, trapping them within the course of.

The staff of designers behind it embody Jing Hung Chan, Tan Jia-Hao, Joon Yi Lim, Lim Cher Khai, and Mostafa Marzouk from Asia Pacific College of Know-how & Innovation Malaysia.

SwiSH intends to make it simpler for ladies, disabled individuals, and the like, use much less power whereas altering their tyres / Picture Credit score: SwiSH

In the meantime, SwiSH is a automobile jack designed to make hoisting up a car in case of a tyre puncture extra consumer pleasant.

Comprising three concentric cylindrical elements, the mechanism applies a telescopic idea to permit customers to hoist a automobile with out exerting extra drive. 

Do you know: Telescoping in mechanics describes the motion of 1 half sliding out from one other, lengthening an object (reminiscent of a telescope or the carry arm of an aerial work platform) from its relaxation state.

The cylindrical form of SwiSH additionally gives a a lot greater floor space making it extra steady and safer when in use.

Each runners-up are planning to additional their experimentation and enhance their prototypes to make their designs extra environment friendly.


Successful the nationwide leg of the JDA will inject RM27,900 into MA-Pencil.

The MA-Pencil will now be progressing to the worldwide stage of the JDA, the place the shortlist shall be introduced on October 12, and the worldwide winners shall be named on November 16.

  • Study extra about MA-Pencil right here.
  • Find out about previous JDA nationwide winners right here.

Picture Credit score: Le Qi, inventor of MA-Pencil, Malaysia’s nationwide winner for the James Dyson Award 2022

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