An inflatable device that allows at-home healthcare workers to independently reposition patients without strain or stress, has won the Australian James Dyson Award 2022.

Inspired by a camping bed, the AirLift can be inflated using a remote-control pump, which fills the inner bladder with air and lifts the patient off the bed. Placing a layer of air between the patient and the bed reduces the force required for repositions, minimising the risk of injury to the healthcare worker from strain. AirLift can switch between three key patient movements, sit up, roll over and translate, which can be controlled using the remote control. A removable cover can be replaced to meet hygiene requirements.

The AirLift inventors, RMIT University students Fergus Davidson, Maireid Carrigg and Maneet Singh,  secured A$9,000 in funding to take the idea to the next stage of its development. The team plan to manufacture a functional prototype, as well as assessing and improving the sustainability of the design.

A runner-up in this year’s competition was the Frankie chair, a functional mobility chair invented by Carla Pelligra from Swinburne University of Technology

The chair aids with key mobility challenges that a number of Australians can face. It includes a pressure sensor which can alert the carer if the individual has left the chair, helping to monitor wandering in those who have dementia. Additionally, the chair incorporates a tilt mechanism, allowing the base to tilt to a 20-degree incline to help users go from sitting to standing and can be adjusted to the needs of the user, for example lengthening or shortening the legs.

Both will move onto the international stage when winners will be announced on November 22.