Being in a plane or boat that goes down in the ocean is a terrifying image that no one really ever wants to think about. But thankfully Kieran Normoyle, a final year design student, has given it some thought -- lots of thought, actually -- and he's come up with a better inflatable life jacket design that protects against shock and hypothermia from freezing temperatures.
His creation is known as Hydros and is actually more of a life jacket system made up of three different components. At its core is a t-shirt featuring manually activated gel heat packs over the heart, carotid arteries, jugular veins, and other vital areas that help keep the wearer's blood warm as it's pumped towards the brain. The heat packs can maintain a temperature of 60C for up to eight hours, helping to fend off the effects of hypothermia.
Further protecting the wearer against frigid ocean temperatures is a waterproof jacket that works like a wet suit to trap body heat and provide extra insulation. And finally the Hydros of course includes a zip-up inflatable life vest with an innovative offset design that serves to keep the wearer face up -- and can even automatically flip someone over to help prevent secondary drowning where liquid in the lungs can be fatal.
The catch, of course, is that the Hyrdos seems better suited to disaster situations where passengers and crew have enough time to properly put the life jacket system on. It's all but impossible for it to be used in the event of a plane crash at sea, but for cruise ships or shipping vessels this could without a doubt help save lives in the event of a disaster. [James Dyson Award via Gizmag]