WWU’s Austin Scott and Jo Bloomfield, seniors in the Industrial Design program,won the prestigious 2020 GRAY Awards' student category for “Lo,” a wearable device that focuses on hypertension, encourages blood-pressure awareness, and is targeted towards people in their early twenties.
The GRAY Awards is an annual cross-disciplinary awards program that focuses on architecture, fashion, product design and more. Winners are given awards that are hand crafted by John Hogan, and are also honored at the awards ceremony, which of course was a virtual event this year. The official list of submission categories includes commercial and residential architecture, commercial and residential interior design, landscape, student design and more.
Scott said the pair worked on Lo for their winter project, junior year.
“Usually every junior year the Industrial Design program does a medical project,” he said, adding that they received a focus of hypertension, or high blood pressure, as the basis of that assignment.
According to the CDC, nearly 500,000 deaths recorded in the United States in 2018 were related to hypertension. Furthermore, nearly half of adults in the United States suffer from hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Bloomfield said that their instructor, Professor of Engineering & Design Jason Morris, let the class in on a number of different competitions where students could enter their Winter quarter projects.
“He really encouraged us to submit our projects if they turned out well, so the program paid for us to enter,” Bloomfield said, adding that the GRAY Awards have been a successful competition in the past for members of the Industrial Design program.
“The last time the ID students won was the whole class coming together for one project,” Bloomfield said.
It’s always good to have your hard work noticed. I think that it’s also good for the program to get recognition.
“We decided to enter just because we had the opportunity to. We do think that it’s a good project but we were not expecting to actually get nominated as a finalist,” Scott said.
Scott and Bloomfield have no immediate plans of pursuing the production of Lo beyond the entry of its prototype in the GRAY Awards, but they are both grateful for the recognition and vindication that their finalist status gave them.
“It’s always good to have your hard work noticed. I think that it’s also good for the program to get recognition,” Bloomfield said. She also said that the program normally graduates only 12 students a year, creating an extremely competitive environment.
“I think that it’s important for the program to get recognition because they are producing a high quality student, in my opinion,” Bloomfield said.
Scott said they have both continued fleshing out the project for their online portfolios and would maybe even consider submitting it to other competitions.
“We’ve definitely improved a lot since we turned it in for class, and even since we entered the competition,” Scott said. “We did a lot of research on the internal electronics and components that go into measuring blood pressure and doing all the things that we wanted it to do like notifications and LEDs.”
He joked that if they wanted Lo to hit the production phase they would need to find someone willing to fund the project because they couldn’t possible do it on a student’s budget.
Bloomfield was accepted in the Industrial Design major at the end of Winter quarter 2018 and anticipates graduating in June 2021.
“I entered the program because I am creative, analytical, and mechanical person, so Industrial Design was the perfect fit,” Bloomfield said.
“I wanted to enter the program initially because it was recommended to me based on what I enjoyed doing, drawing and creating things,” Scott said. “After I applied and took the first class I was hooked on it.” He anticipates graduating the program in Spring 2021.