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Students awarded Red Dot's highest honor

SINGAPORE--A design that aims to offer post-natural disaster assistance in Taiwan was awarded a Red Dot Luminary, the highest honor of the Red Dot Design Award, at the 2012 award presentation ceremony in Singapore Friday.

The “Float Base Station,” a mobile communication device designed by graduate students Huang Pin-jen and Huang Hsin-ya of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, is the first Taiwanese work to win the highest distinction, which is given to honor the best concept at the competition.

“We had not thought much about winning the prize before coming to Singapore,” the duo said. “We were already very happy to win an award.”

Their design was among the entries to receive a Red Dot Best of the Best Award in the category of design concept at the annual German design competition, which also includes a contest for product design and one for communication design.

“Float Base Station,” is a device that can be airdropped into an area during an emergency and it is equipped with a type of balloon that can be floated aloft to bring in communication signals, according to the designers.

The invention was created because Taiwan is often affected by natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes. With the device, which can also generate power through wind, people trapped in disaster-affected areas can send out SOS signals with on-hand communication equipment, Huang Hsin-ya said.

“The design came from a desire to care for Taiwan society,” Huang Pin-jen said.

This year, more than 3,672 entries from 57 countries were submitted to the design concept competition. A total of 217 concepts were awarded a Red Dot Award, with 46 receiving Best of the Best awards.

Ken Koo, president of Red Dot Asia, praised Taiwanese people's increasingly improved design capabilities.

More and more Taiwanese works have participated in or won international competitions in recent years, and many of the works make aspects of life easier or more connected, he said.

Apart from “Float Base Station,” another Taiwanese design, “Add Up” by Deng Pei-chih and Hsieh Tsai-ni of National Taipei University of Technology, was also nominated for the Luminary award.

“Add Up” is a system that allows spare foreign currency to be put to good use. Coins and notes brought back from abroad can be used to pay for Skype points or donated to charity, for example, the designers explained.

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