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Zhik Isotak Ocean

BoatUS News- Design a better life jacket and win $5,000

by D. Scott Croft Boat US on 12 Jan 2011
BoatUS BoatUS Press Room
BoatUS wants to know... Are you an armchair inventor with a better way to keep boaters, sailors and anglers afloat?

The 'Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition' is calling for out-of-the-box life jacket design entries. However, you only have until the February 1 to submit your idea.


The BoatUS Foundation, along with Underwriters Laboratories and the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association, have teamed up to seek out the newest technologies and design innovations that could rethink a 100-year-old design. 'The interest in new, more comfortable designs are always important to waterway users,' said BoatUS Vice President of Boating Safety Chris Edmonston. 'While current models of life jackets save lives every day, many are still bulky and uncomfortable, leaving boaters reluctant to wear them. This competition hopes to challenge that mindset.'

Entries that embrace new technologies and non-traditional thinking are being encouraged from individuals or groups, such as high school science clubs, collegiate design programs or even boat and fishing clubs. There are no rules regarding types of materials to be used or whether the design meets any current US standards. 'This is the time to be unconventional in your thinking about what a life jacket has to look or feel like,' added Edmonston,

The entries will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation. 'Wearability' relates to the level of comfort. 'Reliability' will take into account the chances for potential failure, while 'cost' will look at the affordability of the design. 'Innovation' will take into account originality or the employment of new technologies.

In early February, video of all entries will be posted online at the BoatUS Foundation's channel at YouTube.com, and the public will be asked to select a group of finalists. The finalist entries will then be reviewed by a special panel of judges convened at the International Boating and Water Safety Summit in Savannah, Georgia, on March 6-9, 2011, and the winner announced. A $5,000 cash award goes to the winning designer.

To enter, video footage of an actual working prototype must be submitted by providing a URL link to the video (no actual prototypes are submitted). The video must clearly demonstrate how the design floats a person in the water. For more information on how to enter and for contest rules, visit

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