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Koreans win iF Design gold prize

Mar 18,2017
An eyeglasses-earphone device for the hearing impaired won the gold design award and a navigation watch for the visually impaired received the regular award. [KONYANG UNIVERSITY]
Students and one professor at Konyang University in South Jeolla received the gold award for the 2017 iF Design Awards, a first for Korean universities.

Students at the university’s Program for Industrial needs-Matched Education (PRIME) College of Interdisciplinary & Creative Studies (CICS) - Kim Ye-jin, Kim Jeong-min, Bae Ju-hyeon and Lee Yeon-jae - along with Song Jae-seung, the dean, and Hwangbo Hyung-ho, a professor, received the iF Design Award at the BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany, on March 10.

They submitted two designs for the competition. The first was a combined earphone-and-eyeglasses unit for the hearing impaired, while the second entry was a cellphone navigation device for the visually impaired.

The earphone unit won gold and the navigation device won the main award. Of the 5,000 to 6,000 entrees submitted yearly, 25 percent are selected as recipients of an iF Design Award, while only 75 entrees receive gold awards.

“The intent of the design in aiding handicapped persons received a warm reception,” said Song.

Sound-reactive light emitting diodes (LED) are installed on opposite ends of the glasses’ frame. According to the noise level, the brightness of the light or the color changes. The earphones detect sounds and deliver vibrations to the ears. “If this device is worn,” Song said, “the hearing-impaired can warn of risky situations and help users avoid accidents.”

The navigation device is in the form of a watch with 12 dots corresponding to the user’s direction. By setting a destination using one’s voice, the relevant dots are then raised.

Rather than contending for the iF Student Award, the students and professor chose to test their mettle for the Professional Concept Award, which normally features practical design professionals from global giants such as Apple, Samsung and Sony. The intent was to grapple against a higher level of competitors.

The development of these designs began from an assignment last May in a university course, “Human Engineering and Design,” which proposed the development of devices for the hearing and visually impaired for submission to the international design competition.

For six months until the entry date of October, the students dove into research as soon as they stepped foot into the lecture halls and laboratories.

Lee Yeon-jae said, “While preparing for the competition, we worked overnight at the laboratories for at least three days a week.”

The students of this department worked in collaborative research with BMW last July. The student recipients of this year’s iF Design prize were given the opportunity to visit the BMW headquarters and study advanced design techniques.

The iF Design Award was hosted by a German marketing consulting company, International Forum Design, and is considered to be the “Oscar” of the design community. With America’s International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) and Germany’s Red Dot Design Award, it is one of the world’s three major design awards.

Konyang University CICS was established in 2012 and had its first graduating class in February. The majority of its 18 graduates have secured employment at major corporations and public institutions.

BY KIM BANG-HYUN [hwang.hosub@joongang.co.kr]


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