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Design student eyes up success

MASTER OF INVENTION: Curtis John, 26, loves design

A STUDENT with a talent for design has created a futuristic eyeball-shaped interactive security system that could deter would-be criminals.

After conducting research as part of his final year project into human behaviour and discovering that people reacted to things that had human-like features, Curtis John of Popular, east London, devised the ‘Sentient’ in his product design course at Middlesex University.

The invention comes complete with an iris, lighting, camera and even eye lids to take on uncanny human characteristics.

John now plans to develop his design with the support of Middlesex University’s Red Loop innovation centre. And if he secures further investment to launch it onto the market, the 26-year-old could not only cut crime but rake in a fortune too.

He told The Voice: “The response has been good. [Sentient] is designed to use the psychology behind the relationships people have with human-like objects. If, for example, someone was coming towards a house and thinking of breaking in, it suddenly activates to startle them. It starts off quite inert and quiet, and then as soon as someone comes close, it comes to life.”

He further explained: “The best thing about [the Sentient] is when the intruder sees the red ball and activates it, which creeps them out,” he added.

The system has three distinct settings. When it is in sleep mode the eyelids are partially closed and the centre light turns off. In active mode the eyelids open wide, the iris turns yellow and the eye (camera) moves in a searching pattern. In locked-on mode, the iris turns red, the lids close slightly mimicking a human stare and the eye follows the intruder.  

EYE ON YOU: Sentient could ‘creep out’ criminals

John added: “There is a gap in the market as most security systems are motionless, so not much attention is paid to them as they allow intruders to remain feeling anonymous.
“Adding a human element can have a significant effect on crime, as was recently demonstrated by a study where just placing an image of staring eyes reduced crime.” 

The intelligent Sentient system, which took six months to complete, reacts only to human movement by the use of its facial recognition feature.

It can be used anywhere a normal security camera can and consists of just three main components; the wall bracket, the case and the protective dome, which can easily be assembled.

This is a promising start for John who has had a passion for design from an early age.

“When I was younger I would take my car toys apart and try to adapt them to put my Lego men inside,” he said. “I chose to study product design because I wanted to create something that has not been done before.”

John added: “I would like to do a series of security systems, other similar kind of range, which interact with animals.”

Appearing on shows like the BBC’s Dragon’s Den is an option the young designer may consider.

He said: “I would consider it, but would probably not actually do it because they would own more of the product than I would.”

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