News Release

UNIST recognized for design excellence at IDEA 2023!

Grant and Award Announcement

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology(UNIST)

Professor Chajoong Kim and his design team at UNIST


Professor Chajoong Kim and his design team at UNIST honored with the 'IDEA 2023' Bronze Award in the category of Concepts & Speculative Design.

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Credit: UNIST

The design concept of a disaster alert balloon, capable of changing its color like a chameleon, has been honored for its design excellence at the internationally renowned International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) 2023.

The awarded concept, named SAFEUP, serves as a hazard indicator, providing visual information about the condition of accident sites from a safe distance. Developed by Professor Chajoong Kim and his team in the Department of Design at UNIST, SAFEUP has received the ‘IDEA 2023’ Bronze Award in the category of Concepts & Speculative Design. The accolade acknowledges the innovative implementation of advanced discoloration material technology and a design that prioritizes the safety of individuals present at accident sites.

The IDEA competition, hosted annually by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) since 1980, stands as one of the most influential and esteemed design competitions globally, alongside the Red Dot Design Award and iF Design Awards. This remarkable achievement highlights the exceptional talent and creativity demonstrated by Professor Kim and his team at UNIST.

SAFEUP, the design concept proposed by Professor Kim’s team, features a color-changing balloon that delivers real-time information concerning disaster situations and the level of danger involved. Its primary purpose is to ensure the safety of citizens during accidents, acts of terrorism, or incidents involving the release of radiation, chemicals, or viruses. Recognizing that such hazardous substances are often imperceptible to the naked eye and that access to affected areas is frequently restricted, the design of SAFEUP effectively addresses these challenges.

When deployed over a disaster or terrorism site through a capsule, the balloon inflates, resembling a parachute. Equipped with a specialized coating, the balloon undergoes color changes, transitioning between red (Danger), yellow (Caution), and green (Safety) based on the degree of danger present. Positioned at a height of 4 meters above the ground in an elongated form, the balloon is easily identifiable from a distance. The intuitive color changes accompanied by informative messages enable swift recognition of danger, facilitating prompt evacuation.

The advanced discoloration materials utilized in the SAFEUP balloon design are the outcome of collaborative research conducted with Professor Chang Young Lee from the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, as well as Professor Jongnam Park from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNIST. Expressing his satisfaction, Professor Kim, the project leader, stated, “The convergence of next-generation material technology and innovative design prioritizing human safety has received global recognition.”

The project received support from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) through the Design Industry Technology Development Project, organized by PARU Printed Electronics Co., Ltd., a prominent printing electronics company. UNIST, in collaboration with Sungkyunkwan University and the Korea Flexible & Printed Electronics Association (KoPEA), is actively participating in the development of ‘responsive CMF (Color, Material, Finish) materials’ for this project.”

This recognition at the IDEA 2023 underscores UNIST’s commitment to fostering groundbreaking design solutions that contribute to the well-being and safety of society. The university continues to support and encourage research initiatives that push the boundaries of innovation and creativity.

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