Awards honour female inventors

Morag Hutcheon has won the 2006 Female Inventor of the Year award for ‘pre.vu’, an audio device integrated into the spine of a standard CD tray.


Morag Hutcheon has won the 2006 British Female Inventor of the Year award for ‘pre.vu’ an audio device integrated into the spine of a standard CD tray. The award was presented at the British Female Inventors and Innovators Network conference held in London’s Guildhall.



Pre.vu allows potential buyers to press a button on a CD case and hear 60 seconds of sound, which could be a snippet of music or an introduction by the artiste. Other planned applications include spoken installation instructions to accompany a mobile phone SIM card and personally recorded messages to accompany gifts or flowers.



Hutcheon said, “We had to fiddle with the acoustic design of the speaker cavity a lot to boost the bass and get the required quality without tinniness in the space of a standard CD case. Then we had to re-engineer all the components to fit.”



The invention includes the software that compresses the files and the machinery to upload the audio. Two recording devices are available to businesses that want to employ the technology. A high-speed uploader loads audio files into the device at a rate of 80 per second and a desktop version records a single one in three seconds via a computer USB port.


Other finalists displayed their inventions at an exhibition to accompany the awards held at Guildhall in London.


Dr. Helen Ford, a Daphne Jackson fellow at CranfieldUniversity’s School of Engineering, presented a medical imaging endoscope with no moving parts. The high-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) device uses a bundle of optical fibres, each producing a pixel in the final image. This means the device is unpowered and takes an instant image rather than having to scan.



Julie Baker, a Principal Scientist for Kodak European Research, showed an antifoggant for use in black and white recording film that does not degrade and is sensitive to more of the spectrum. It prevents the speed of the emulsion drifting over time – normal solutions need to be disposed of after around 4 hours, at significant cost and environmental impact. A special sensitising dye creates a differentiation in speed exposure between 633nm (helium ion) and 670nm (laser diode).



Dr. Helen Lee from Diagnostics For The Real World, a University of Cambridge Research Services Division spin-put company, showed a rapid, foolproof Chlamydia test kit for use as self-test or clinical use. The detector molecule used in the kit has undergone biochemical modification for increased sensitivity



Megan Beynon from IBM UK was shortlisted for Peridot, a system that automatically maintains the integrity of a website, preventing links becoming obsolete when web pages are missing, moved or altered.



The British Female Innovator of the Year Award went to Jayne Lawton for Grobox, an instant gift garden in a biodegradable box.