Alex Duff

  • Award made: January 2020

Alex Duff, 5th year MEng Product Design Engineering

There are currently 22,000 males living in the UK with Downs Syndrome, and 13,000 cannot shave independently. The life expectancy of people living with the condition has increased from 25 to 60 in the past 40 years, so the ability to live independently is more important now than ever. People with the condition typically have low muscle tone and fine motor skills, and require assistance with tasks such as shaving.

Alex is designing a product which will assist by using a modified shaver, which will aid shaving by sensing pressure on the shaving heads and their location and direction of movement, using pressure sensors and accelerometers in the shaver, communicating by Bluetooth to an app, which would be used to overlay patterns and instructions onto the user’s face, much like Snapchat filters. The app will use augmented reality (AR) technology to allow users to follow with the shaver, removing the facial hair. This will make the activity of shaving gamebased, interactive and fun! Users will be able to choose which facial hair styles they want via the app, and the patterns and instructions will be modified to achieve the desired style. This puts the power in the hands of the user, and facilitates independence.

Alex has spoken to occupational therapists, people with DS and their families and carers, charity organisers, childminders, teachers and speech therapists, all of whom have helped shape the concept, and the CEO of ‘Downs-Syndrome Scotland’ regularly contributes ideas and direction.