Designs for easy living

Designs for easy living

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may tse
Students from Polytechnic University have come up with some very innovative products. Photo: May Tse

Polytechnic University students put their minds to work on practical gadgets for today's world, writes Wong Yat-hei

A group of Polytechnic University students showcased a range of environmentally friendly products at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair last month. Their designs caught the attention of overseas buyers.

The 11 products were final-year projects of the university's Bachelor of Engineering in Product Analysis and Engineering Design programme.

Young Post talked to some of the young inventors about their products.

The 'Simenon' rice washer - developed by Gigi Au Yeung Chi-tung, Kenneth Chen Ming-fung and Kid Yip Ha-ying - is a new concept in washing rice.

'It's common for people to rinse rice several times with running water before cooking but this is unnecessary and wastes water. Pour 750 millilitres of water into the device, spin a few times and the rice is ready to cook,' Yip said.

The product has caught the eye of many overseas buyers, especially the Japanese, who are heavy rice consumers.

'Our group received more than 60 inquiries from buyers who said they want to co-operate with us. Some even want to offer us jobs. It's very encouraging,' Au Yeung said.

'Dryad' - created by Kin Au Kin-ming, Athena Lau Tsz-yan and Steffi Li Wing-fung - is an eco-friendly solar-powered dehumidifier that can be used for 10 years.

Silica gel is a common agent used to absorb moisture. The gel can be dehydrated by attaching it to a solar energy unit.

Au says: 'Determining the size of the product will be a challenge if it goes to market. Local families find it too bulky and have problems finding a place to charge the solar panels. European users on the other hand think it is too small.'

Another solar-powered device is the 'Eco warmer'. This outdoor heater - designed by Ali Chan hiu-na, Long Law Tsz-ling and Steven Wong Chi-sum - is for people who like to sit outdoors. It can be used by cafes.

'It's like a pavilion with a table below. Solar panels on the top power an infrared heater under the table to keep users warm,' Chan said. 'It is more efficient than a gas heater.'

According to feedback from buyers, the Eco warmer's recharging time needs to be more efficient.

Four hours in the sun is enough to power the heater for an hour. This might be fine in the home, but for commercial use, longer operating hours will be required.

Icy Tang Ho-yan, Joe Wong Man-hon and Edmond Sun Chi-ming have come up with 'Pasta Magic' for energy-efficient pasta cooking.

'Modern families tend to be small and it is a waste of energy and water to cook pasta for only one or two people in a big pot, so we developed Pasta Magic,' Tang said.

The product proved popular with European buyers.

'There are many products that cook pasta quickly but there is nothing like ours, which also saves water and energy,' Wong said.

Dr Alan Lau Kin-tak, the programme leader and co-ordinator of the Bio Home project, said they were waiting for feedback from buyers to determine which product would be mass-produced.

The Bio Home project is a collaboration between the university and product developer Bunhoi Group.

To find out more, visit the university's mechanical engineering department's website at www.me.polyu.edu.hk

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