A hovering vacuum cleaner powered by artificial intelligence was among the cutting-edge inventions at the University of Brighton’s Product Design showcase. VacHumme, created by student Tom Harding, is an almost fully automated ‘dusting drone’. It operates via an AI mapping function and is designed to fly around a single room, cleaning every surface it can reach.
With every new journey around a room the VacHumme’s memory and knowledge of the space will grow stronger, meaning it is eventually able to tell whether furniture has been moved and adapt its route accordingly.
The only human intervention required is an occasional emptying of the vacuum chamber. The device has a wireless charging station.
The brief students were given for their showcase inventions was to ‘design a product which would help someone over the age of 30 who is living alone’.
Harding said: “From this brief I decided to create a product which would reduce the amount of work a single person has to do to keep their house in order. Following this I tried to think of a situation that everyone must do but not very many people enjoy doing.
“It was only when I went home shortly after the brief was set that, while helping out with the cleaning at home, I stopped to consider how many jobs the four of us were accomplishing. The only job we all did was dusting the house. It was then a small leap of logic to assume every household was the same, and that I only needed to conduct research to see if my theory was correct.”
Harding has ambitions to secure the funding that would enable him to complete a version of the device that could be sold to the public. “That is a long-term goal and something I might have to tinker with until I have the required funding.”
The theme of the Product Design showcase was ‘single living’. Research from the Office for National Statistics that shows roughly 28% of households in the UK contain just one person, meaning the idea of the traditional home is changing. As a result, the products we use in the household are also in a state of flux.
Damon Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Design, said: “It was very encouraging to see that the students had responded to their brief with intelligence and sensitivity. The prototypes they are exhibiting in this show demonstrate a depth of research and a real effort to innovate around an issue that is the mark of good design. They are also in many cases showing a real ability to engineer viable solutions to difficult problems while crafting functional and desirable products that people would really use.”