Five Ideas to Shake the World – London Design Festival

Gloria Lin

As I wound my way through the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Five Ideas to Shake the World session, part of the London Design Festival, I took in the artifacts of history en route to learning more about the future.

A fast paced session that put the pioneers of five ideas in front of a panel of judges and an audience, the goal of the event was to crown the most dynamic idea for our future.

The session went in a 5×5 format. The pioneers had five minutes to present their big idea, followed by five minutes of critique. The four judges each gave a score out of 10 to the idea. The audience then voted from the top two, deciding which idea would win bragging rights for the year.

The 5 ideas:

Peek – eye examination app

Dr. Andrew Bastawrous

Area: Accessible healthcare

Started in Kenya by eye surgeon Andrew, Peek is a mobile app that uses smart phones as an eye examination tool. 80% of blindness is avoidable if caught early enough, but this is especially difficult in the developing world where accessibility is an issue.

I was impressed by the reach of the project and the impact it has already had. The app is a portable, affordable system that expands the capabilities of mobile devices. The team has the funding (and passion) in place to carry the project further.

Judges’ score: 34/40


Ooho – drinkable water blob

Rodrigo Gonzalez

Area: Sustainable packaging

Rodrigo and his team are working on sustainable packaging in the shape of a water blob that can be eaten after the water is drunk.

While the idea has its merits, it’s still at a very early stage. The product will need to be refined and tested further before it can be brought to market. I look forward to seeing where they take the idea.

Judges’ score: 25/40


Plan Bee – beehive monitoring device

Julia Johnson

Area: Farming

Despite recent advances, farming still relies heavily on pollination from bees. However, colonies are collapsing at an alarming rate. Plan Bee is a scanning device placed in a beehive that monitors the hive and can detect early signs of disease.

The judges and I had trouble grasping the concept in a clear, succinct way. One of the judges asked for the elevator pitch. To move her idea forward, Julia will need to think about how she tells a compelling product story.

Judges’ score: 23/40


Pavegen – energy from footfall

Jonathan Keeling

Area: Alternative energy

Pavegen develops floor tiles that convert energy from footsteps into electricity. Pavegen have placed large installations in areas of heavy foot traffic, such as train stations and stadiums. The goal is to take these locations off the grid.

I had an “Aha!” moment with this idea. The idea makes sense, and I don’t know why someone hasn’t done this sooner. While Pavegen develops the business, it will be interesting to see how else this might be applied. What about gamification to address obesity?

Judges’ score: 28/40


Vibe – vibration touchscreen

Tim Sadler

Area: Electronics

Vibe is a touch screen based on vibration. It uses a single sheet of material and two sensors to determine where the vibration came from, thus creating a touchscreen free of circuitry. Tim showed us keyboard prototypes made of plastic and metal.

Vibe is another idea in early development, but oh the possibilities! Imagine a world come to life through touch. Vibe is on trend with the Internet of Things and the conversion of physical and digital.

Judges’ score: 30/40 (with a 10 from an enthusiastic judge)


With the top two scores, Peek and Vibe battled it out for the final vote. The winner? Peek!

Eye test, water blob, hive scanner, footfall energy, futuristic touchscreen. The five ideas to shake the world. And what an exciting world it will become.

Gloria Lin

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