Budget kit that spots skin cancer wins James Dyson Award

By Oliver Smith 9 November 2017

Saving lives is all in a day’s work for this year’s winners.

Even the best doctors have been known to misdiagnose skin cancer, mistaking moles or marks for something more serious, or entirely missing something more deadly.

The winners of this year’s international James Dyson Award have a far better solution.

Spotting a spot

sKan is a cheap hand-held device that monitors the temperature of a suspect mole, to see if it heats up faster than the skin around it after a ice pack is applied.

Because cancerous tissue retains heat more quickly than non-cancerous, a quick-warming mole is a good sign that it might actually be a more troubling case of melanoma.

The sKan kit costs less than $1,000 and works with a regular tablet or laptop. It holds the potential to boost detection of the cancer which kills 2,500 people a year in the UK alone.

“By using widely available and inexpensive components, the sKan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many,” said James Dyson.

The international James Dyson award is the final round of a competition that sees every national James Dyson award-winner, like Britian’s Ryan Yasin with his stretchable Petit Pli children’s clothing, compete for the grand prize of £30,000.

sKan was created by four engineering undergraduates from Canada, Michael Takla, Rotimi Fadiya, Prateek Mathur and Shivad Bhavsar, who say they will use the prize money to keep refining the product to the point where it can be used by medical practices around the world.

But they weren’t the only ingenious innovators.

Atropos, created by Gabriele Natale. Image: Dyson.

Printing the future

3D-printing is pretty wasteful, so Gabriele Natale from Italy designed Atropos, a robotic arm which can print 3D objects using far less material by layering the material onto fibres before they’re placed.

While Tina Zimmer from Germainy created Twistlight, a medical device which uses LED lights to perfectly guide a needle into a vein without mistake.

It might be one of the most common medical procedures in the world, but a third of all attempts by doctors and nurses fail at the first try.

Last year’s Dyson Award winner was New Yorker Isis Shiffer, who designed a cheap collapsible cycling helmet to protect those using city bike sharing schemes.

We can’t wait to see how this year’s winners get on.