Female engineer is using space technology to make parenting easier
03 May 2016
Fujia Chen and Julian Jantke, Oxford Space Structures
Technology designed to unfurl space satellites at 30,000 miles above the earth is behind a revolutionary new design of the travel cot that will make travelling with baby a whole lot easier.
When aeronautical engineer, Fujia Chen, was babysitting her nephew and struggling with an awkward, bulky travel cot she knew that there had to be an easier way. So she designed a better one using space technology. SpaceCot weighs less than 6kg and can be folded up or down with one hand, in just three seconds.
The idea won Chen a placement at Oxford’s SAID Business School, and funding from the UKTI and Innovate UK, after which she embarked on a two year business incubation tenancy at the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre at Harwell (ESA BIC Harwell) in Oxfordshire.
Managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the ESA BIC Harwell helps small companies to turn their brilliant ideas, using space technology, into marketable products and services for non-space sectors. Here Chen developed and refined her prototype SpaceCot and set up her business, Oxford Space Structures.
Inspired by patented technology designed for ESA’s Alphasat, Europe’s largest telecommunications satellite, the SpaceCot’s easy opening technology is based on a very simple folding mechanism that was used to unfold Alphasat’s 40m solar wings as it reached geostationary orbit. Using the fewest components possible to maximise its strength and stability, the SpaceCot is also made with aerospace-grade aluminium tubing to ensure maximum strength whilst keeping the cot lightweight.
“Joining the ESA BIC Harwell meant that we had an unrivalled array of world leading science and research infrastructure at our fingertips, which was invaluable to developing the prototype.” said Vhen.
“With focus also on the commercialisation of the SpaceCot, being at STFC’s ESA BIC Harwell put us in the perfect position to access the specialist business expertise we needed to gain the exposure and contacts with the right people, and this is important to the success of any new business. My vision is to develop better baby products using space technology for the worldwide market, and this is just the beginning.”
“The travel cot market is worth £60m in the UK and perhaps ten times this worldwide. With limited innovation in the travel cot market over the last 15 years this is a fantastic opportunity for the SpaceCot. We are already taking pre-orders and have the support of some leading baby product retailers, so we are very excited to be launching later this month,” said Business partner, Julian Jantke of Oxford Space Structures.
The SpaceCot will be launched in the UK at the Harrogate International Nursery Fair, 20-22 March, closely followed by launches in China and the USA.
See more about the SpaceCot journey here.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/05/03/female-engineer-is-using-space-technology-to-make-parenting-easier/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Travel-Cot.pnghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Travel-Cot-300x300.pngNews