DESIGN PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

Winner: 1…Ltd

Runners-up: Expert Monitoring; Hoover Vortex/BHR; Spriroflow; IMI Norgren

Cambridge-based 1…Ltd’s DLS speaker system is designed to eliminate the distortion problems which have dogged the 75-year history of loudspeakers.

The DLS replaces moving coil magnetic drivers with ceramic piezoelectric transducers, which help eliminate distortion. Using digital signal processing power, signals can be taken directly from the digital audio outputs of CD & DVD players or be supplied via a digital spread-spectrum radio link, eliminating the need for cables.

The efficiency of the speakers means that they can be powered from internal batteries, and sound absorption technology using multi-layer particulate aerogel structures dispenses with the need for a cabinet.

Multiple speakers in one installation can convey different channels simultaneously due to the remote-control device `talking’ directly to the speakers. The company believes this zero-maintenance, solid-state electronic product will eliminate conventional analogue sound systems within 10 years, and strong interest from the professional audio community seems to back this up.

Runners-up

Hot on 1..Ltd’s heels is Expert Monitoring’s innovative SMARTLOGGER software, a data acquisition system which applies real time speech recognition technology to blueprint instrumentation data in plant diagnostic applications.

Other close contenders were Hoover Vortex and BHR Group’s triple-vortex vacuum cleaner design, and Spiroflow’s dust containment system, the Model T9 Bulk Bag Discharger. IMI Norgren’s precision valves, which will control the flow of superfluidic helium in the cooling system of the 2007 Satellite Science Mission, was also a strong contender.