Children's imaginations are infinite – so could they help draw up the ambitious projects that we need to fight the world's challenges? A group was asked to design inventions to make society a better place. Here's how they responded
From a ‘gun sucker inner’ to an ‘ocean organiser’, children have been applying their unique way of thinking to a range of problems. A group aged between 5-11 from the UK and Australia were asked what they would invent to make the world a better place. An illustrator then interpreted 10 of their drawings to help bring their inspiring ideas to life.
Some of the proposals are not far from real-world innovations.
• The Gun Sucker Inner is similar to Humanium, a new material made from recycled metal from gun destruction programs. All products made with Humanium go towards funding for victims and projects aiming to rebuild conflict-torn societies.
• Olly the Ocean Organiser has a parallel in The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. By using the ocean currents to their advantage, the passive drifting systems could clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years’ time, says inventor Boyan Slat.
• Cody the Carer brings to mind Aido, a company that is on a mission to improve quality of life for humans using affordable and easy-to-use robotics and automation products. Aido is a service robot that can carry out tasks such as playing with children and helping people with household chores.
“It’s fascinating to see the minds of possible future inventors at work,” says Matt Lindley from the project. “The challenge is to keep that momentum building throughout childhood and into young adulthood.”
The power of imagination: the children’s designs
1. Olly the Ocean Organiser
Olly is a machine that scours the ocean for rubbish and captures it in a giant net. Its inventor Daisy, a nine-year-old from the UK, writes that the machine would have solar-powered propellers and “eyes to see if there is any fish not to hurt them”.
2. Gun Sucker Inner
Six-year-old Harry from Australia imagines a vacuum-like device that sucks up all the guns in the world and destroys them in its dynamic body. The wheels at the bottom facilitate speedy transportation for where this powerful machine is most needed.
3. Cody the Carer
Laura came up with a benevolent robot that cares for elderly people and caters to their every need. Cody the Carer has “eyes that tell us if the person is getting ill, hands that are waterproof and can do dishes, and a mouth that talks to the old person and stops them from being lonely”.
The Frogainpet works by mixing hearts and very hot water to create love, a special steam released into the air. Hearts not turned into steam are boxed up, moved along the conveyor belt and shipped out all around the world for people to enjoy.
5. The Tree Rocket
The Tree Rocket is capable of transporting its passengers from England to Australia in just a second. Windows in the top of the tree allow for optimal viewing experiences during travel, and the handy door in the trunk provides easy access for travellers.
6. The Rubbish Eater
The Rubbish Eater, by five-year-old Australian designer Hannah, singlehandedly solves the world’s rubbish and deforestation problems by turning rubbish into fully formed trees.
7. Bob the Robot
Although he’s been in the wars himself, Bob the Robot is perfect at helping other people, explains UK designer, eight-year-old Lexie. Equipped with wings and the kindest brain in the world, he can cure cancer, medical issues and encourage world peace. Bob reminds everyone that not all disabilities are visible.
8. Dress-Me Machine
The Dress-Me Machine helps its operator get ready in the morning. Once your dream outfit is put together with the handy selector screen, the giant mechanical dressing arm pops your clothes on as you glide comfortably along the conveyor belt.
9. The Food Spawner
This magic microwave-like machine conjures up any food your heart desires. Simply type in the food you’d like and the Spawner does the hard work, using its antennae at the top to search for ideal recipes and generate your dream snack, explains 10-year-old Australian designer Mia.
10. The Tizzer
The Tizzer is a machine that can fix absolutely anything in a minute. Simply point it at the thing you want to fix, turn the white button and wait 10 seconds for the high-tech laser to start up and concentrate its special fixing rays on the broken object.
To find out more, visit the Future Founders website