Andrew Taylor

A new conceptual design for assistive glasses which could revolutionise the way in which visually impaired athletes train and compete have been shortlisted for a prestigious design award.

Andrew Taylor, a 24-year-old graduate from the University of Bath, came up with his innovative concept while in the final year of his design project.

Working in a similar way to parking sensors, the glasses track an athlete’s position in their lane and running direction which is then translated into an audio signal. The audio gets louder depending on where the runner is on the track, allowing them to maintain a steady line around the circuit.

Andrew said: “I’ve always been interested in designing ideas for people with disabilities and had a real think about what would make a real difference to people’s lives.

“You often see runners in competitions using guide runners to direct them around a track but this can introduce problems with availability, funding, injury and illness at all levels of abilities.

“These issues are resolved by the glasses and will allow for far greater freedom for disabled athletes to get out and practice whenever they wish to do so.”

The product looks similar to typical running glasses, with the addition of a camera and headphones; the camera uses clever algorithms to track lane position while the headphones relays this to the user.

Andrew hopes that if his product is successful in the Blackwood Design Awards, then the product could be taken forward and eventually adapted for general, day-to-day use and not just for athletes.

“If my design was lucky enough to win, it’d open up so many avenues for engaging conversations with designers, academics and disabled athletes to really take it on from the prototype stage,” continued Andrew.

“Benefitting from Blackwood’s experience would massively help develop the idea and the business around it while the prize money would help fund the next iteration of the concept.”

First launched in 2013 as the Blackwood Student Design Competition, the annual contest has grown to become an international competition attracting designers, engineers and inventors from all over the globe.

Andrew’s glasses join a number of innovative solutions shortlisted in the Best New Concept category.

He added: “I hope that in the future the scope of the product can be extended to other sporting events and even everyday life to transform people’s lives.”

Max Brown, Chair of Blackwood Board, said: “The level of entrant this year has been incredibly high across the board.

“Andrew’s design has incredible potential and you can really appreciate the level of thought and design that has gone into it.

“We’re all excited to see which concept comes out on top when the Awards are announced and wish the best of luck to all those shortlisted.”

The winner of the Awards will be announced on May 30th.

An Edinburgh-based charity, Blackwood has more than 1500 homes throughout the country and aims to help those who are disabled, elderly or with sensory impairments to live more independently.

To find out more visit the website HERE

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