Hunting safety innovation hits design target

Technology to prevent hunters from shooting one another has won a big prize for a Wellington company at the national Best Design Awards.

Hunter Safety Lab co-founder Michael Scott said a nervous encounter made him realise vital safety technology was missing.

"Our hunting party ended up splitting quite close to a deer, and the deer was moving around. I was starting to feel a bit nervous and thinking about all those newspaper headlines of hunters getting shot," he said.

"I thought it would be pretty cool if the gun could warn you."

Two-thirds of hunting accident victims are shot by members of their own party, normally just within a short distance. Half were wearing high-vis gear, Scott said.

"Hunters are safety-conscious and know the rules and are still getting into trouble. Something else was needed."

A New Zealander dies in a hunting accident on average once every nine months, and non-lethal incidents and near-misses are even more common.

Scott and co-founder David Grove's solution, a two-part system featuring an infrared gun-mounted sensor that detects special patches worn on the body, picked up the Best Design Award's top-product prize at last night's ceremony.

The Wellingtonians are currently launching their product into the United States and Europe.

They envisioned the patches and sensors, which "beep and flash in a way you can't miss" when detecting a patch in their line of sight, would one day be built into firearms and clothing.

Product judging panel convener Tony Parker said the sensor system had made a truly innovative leap and created a product that could save lives.

"They've done something very simple and clever. They've identified a problem that New Zealanders are all too familiar with."

Another Wellington design honoured in last night's event, hosted by the Designers Institute of New Zealand in Auckland, was a convertible bike that adapted as children developed and aged.

Wishbone Design Studio's Richard Latham picked up a gold pin for the bike in the product section. The cycle, which can also be converted into a baby walker, is made from recycled materials, including 3.5 kilograms of used residential carpet.

"It begins as a push-trike at 12 months for the youngest riders, then converts to a balance bike with a super-adjustable frame that grows with your child."

The bike, fitting in with a child's own pace of development, had already proved a winner with local parents of special needs children, Latham said. "[It] enables their children to become riders too."

The Dominion Post