Hong Kong James Dyson Award Winner Improves Quality of Elder Care

Introducing the ‘future of care home dining’

  • Hong Kong, like other developed economies, expects a surge in demand for geriatric care by 2050
  • There is both a shortage of caregivers and heightened concern about risks of elder abuse, possibly due to a growing risk of caregiver burnout and lack of resources
  • Many tasks in care homes are stressful, time consuming or require physical strength, adding to the risk of care worker burnout and exposing residents to safety hazards
  • To avoid risk of dysphagia and malnutrition, feeding elderly residents often must be supervised, which is time consuming and reduces residents’ independence

HONG KONG, Aug. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — This year’s James Dyson Award Hong Kong winner attempts to solve this problem. omnom. is a smart dining service and product system designed for the future care home. It enables elderly care home residents to enjoy the process of eating and have more interaction, while addressing common care issues such as difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and appropriate nutrition. omnom. connects stakeholders in the care home system through data digitization, enhances interaction quality through design and increases safety through performance monitoring.

omnom. (Created by Chang Pei-Chi)
omnom. (Created by Chang Pei-Chi)

The omnom. comprises five components, a wearable neckpiece, a spoon, a tray for personalised care, a trolley for smart catering and an app for data digitization. The neck piece is safer alternative to visual checking by staff, the swallow sensor uses IASUS throat microphone technology while the spoon is designed to maximise residents’ active involvement in their meals and sustain their oral muscles. The tray and smart catering trolley support personalised menus and meal tracking. By digitising data, rather than manually recording data about meals, care givers will be able to have more quality interactions with residents and their families.

The Inventor
The design engineer is Peggy Chang Pei-Chi, who recently graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a Product Design degree. Peggy says she was attracted to the James Dyson Award competition, because it emphasises problem solving and hands-on testing as well as solution finding, and because it values design and innovation that offers sustainable and comprehensive solutions.

Concerned about quality of care for the burgeoning elderly population, Peggy started her design process by identifying the bottleneck task inflicting the highest cognitive load, which occupied most staff, and exposed residents to risk. Her aim was to improve work efficiency and optimise workloads for care home staff, while maximising the quality of care and transparency through design and technological intervention.

Peggy said: "Increasing cases of care home elderly abuse over the past few years made me question whether the problem lies in the individual or in the care system. One key cause of abuse is caregiver burnout and in Hong Kong’s case, this issue is only escalating with the rapidly aging population and the lack of young staff resources."

The greatest challenge she faced during product development was user testing, as COVID-related restrictions meant it was not possible to have physical interviews with elderly people. However, Peggy reached out to staff at the Hong Kong Society for the Blind Kowloon Home for the Aged Blind, whose frontline staff and professional occupational therapists gave her their perspectives and input. She was also unable to perform user testing on elderly people in care homes, but recruited volunteers.

Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject £2,000 into Chang Pei-Chi’s project.

Peggy says, "My major future goal is to conduct interviews with elderly care home residents for hands-on user tests as soon as conditions allows. I believe that there is still so much potential to explore within this product and service system in terms of understanding stakeholders, their interaction, and feedback on the current designs. Only with more extensive stakeholder insights, suggestions, and co-design workshops will the product be fully ready for the next test-implementation stage."

Steve Yeung, Cofounder and Director of INNOSPHERE and JDA judge commended omnom. as being an enlightened project that improves service quality and efficiency through proper technology application.

Steve adds, "omnom. unties bottlenecks of existing care services through mindful concern about stakeholders’ expectations. Such "product + service" based models should be popular in the health care system of our community. I am glad to see that entries this year are showing great care for our community, from physical to mental needs, from hygiene to sustainable concerns. Their mission deserves our greatest applause and encouragement."

The Runners Up
Healthcare professionals often do not have an effective way to clean stethoscope diaphragms between patient consultations. Cleansing with alcohol swabs is time consuming, but infectious diseases could be carried from patient to patient.
Solution: UVify involves smart automatic stethoscope disinfection using UV light system using UV-C light with a specific range of frequency of around 260 nm as its main purifying agent. Its durable, non-corrosive outer shell both sterilises and protects the stethoscope. When a consultation is finished the UV will light up to give the head a disinfection bath for 60 seconds.

Music and playing musical instruments can bring many benefits to children with ADHD. However, ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity and inattention can make it more difficult to learn to play musical instruments.
Solution: Octaps is an inclusive musical toy for preschool children with ADHD which allows them to actively explore their interest in music by moving around and being active. Designed ergonomically for 4 to 6-year-old children, Octaps comprises a geometric-shaped stool and eight triangle modules that represent the notes on a musical scale. Children learn about music through engaging with the triangles and play songs following guiding or selecting different instrument sounds to create their own music.

The three Hong Kong finalists will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award.

The International shortlist will be announced on 13th October, and the International winners on 17th November.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this year was a record year for the James Dyson Award with more than 2,000 entries submitted globally.

James Dyson Award
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award encourage aspiring engineers, to apply their knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology. Since the Award first opened in 2005, James Dyson has contributed over £100m to boundary-breaking concepts in education and other charitable causes. The competition has supported nearly 250 inventions with prize money, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, an engineering-education charity funded by Dyson profits.

Recent past winners

  • 2020 International winner – The Blue Box (Spain)
    Invented by 23-year-old Judit Giró Benet, The Blue Box is a new way to detect breast cancer, at-home, using a urine sample and an AI algorithm.
  • 2020 Sustainability winner – AuREUS System Technology (The Philippines)
    Invented by 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue, AuREUS is a new material, made from waste crop, which converts UV light into renewable energy.
  • 2020 International runners-up:
    • The Tyre Collective (GB) – A device that captures tyre-wear particles at the wheel of a vehicle, to be recycled for future applications.
    • Scope (Canada) – A new lens using liquid crystals enabling a lossless camera zoom.
  • 2019 International winner – Marina Tex (GB)
    MarinaTex is a home compostable material designed as an alternative to single-use plastic films, invented by Lucy Hughes. The material is comprised of waste material from the fishing industry and sustainable algae.

    Since winning, Lucy has been working with labs in Durham, UK to establish the material properties on MarinaTex and determine how it can be scaled up. She also gained additional business and fiscal support by winning the Start Up Sussex Social Impact prize, UK. In 2020, Lucy secured funding for a patent and registered MarinaTex as a trademark, as well as speaking at conferences such as the European Commission’s Blue Invest Day. This year Lucy is looking for further funding for MarinaTex and waits to see whether she is selected as a finalist in the Green Alley Awards, after being chosen as one of the top 20 finalists.

Notes to Editors

Do you need to add in any additional background information here for press?
The brief. Design something that solves a problem. This problem may be a frustration that we all face in daily life, or a global issue. The important thing is that the solution is effective and demonstrates considered design thinking.

What is the prize? 

  • The International winner receives a prize of £30,000, plus £5,000 for the winner’s university.
  • The Sustainability winner receives a prize of £30,000.
  • The two International runners-up receive £5,000.
  • Each National winner receives £2,000.

What happens next? All national finalists will proceed to the international stages of the competition. A panel of Dyson engineers will create a Top 20 shortlist from these finalists. Sir James Dyson will then choose an International winner and two runners-up. He will also appoint a Sustainability winner for the national finalist that best pays attention to their inventions part in today’s sustainable agenda. This could be through its materials, design process, methods of manufacture, or even the solution to the invention itself.

Who can enter the James Dyson Award? The James Dyson Award runs in 28 countries and regions worldwide. These are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, UK, and USA. The Award launches for the first time in Poland in 2021. 

Entrants must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate engineering/design related course. This course must be at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award. Those participating in a degree level apprenticeship at Level 6 or Level 7, and those who have completed said apprenticeship in the past four years, are now eligible to enter the award.

For more information and regular updates on the progress of the James Dyson Award, check out the Award’s website, Facebook and Instagram. You can also view past winners stories on the Dyson Newsroom here.


Vince is a tech geek, has a passion for sharing knowledge and loves to tinker with different gadgets. Whenever he gets a new gadget he just open the box and figure out how the gadget works without reading the manual.

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