Hira Siddiqui and Warisha Farhat, creators of UniThink
© Khurram

You're now entering Red Bull Basement: prepare for innovation

Right now, university students from across the globe are preparing to pitch next-generation ideas that could improve life on campus today – and around the world tomorrow.
Written by Trish Medalen
Published on
Out of 3,865 international student teams who submitted ideas for the 2020 edition of Red Bull Basement, 38 have been chosen to collaborate in December’s Global Workshop. The teams are now furiously refining their concepts with the help of mentorship programmes and are eager to put their ideas to work and drive positive change. To get you in the mood, check out just a small selection of the ideas so far.

1. Make electricity from sound

Many of the young innovators are concentrating on sustainability topics, like Yusuke Hakamaya and Ryutaro Suda from Tokyo’s Keio University, who are pitching 'hummingbird': a technology that makes electricity from sound waves.
“Energy consumption has doubled in the last 30 years and we have to find a better way to generate power,” says Suda. “A loudspeaker, for example, uses electricity to make sound, so let’s reverse the process, converting the vibrations to electrical power.”
Yusuke Hakamaya (l) and Ryutaro Suda (r) pose for a photo in front of a Red Bull logo.
Yusuke Hakamaya (l) and Ryutaro Suda (r) will attend the Global Workshop

2. Save water via a portable clothes-washing machine

Paramveer Bhachu and Joanna Power from the UK’s Brunel University London have a product that collects and filters shower water, reusing it in a portable clothes-washing machine, the Lava Aqua X.
“A single person uses 149 litres of water per day and usage dramatically increases with students,” Bhachu reveals. “If every student in London were to use the Aqua X, we could save over 1.7b litres of water a year.”
Joanna Power and Paramveer Bhachu have won the chance to represent the UK at the Red Bull Basement 2020 Global Workshop.
Joanna Power and Paramveer Bhachu

3. Reduce clothing returns with a personal fitting room

With statistics showing that 40 percent of clothes bought online are sent back, Royal Doolittle from Johns Hopkins University in the USA wants to reduce returns through Xperience Shopping, a digital tool featuring body-measurement technology and virtual fitting rooms.
Explaining that, in the US alone, hauling return inventory creates about the same C02 emissions as 3m cars annually, Doolittle says, “By personalising the online shopping experience, we're taking steps to ensure that the planet is alive and thriving for future generations.”

4. Monitor your indoor air quality

Student change-makers Jiří Janoušek and Dominik Klement from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic are tackling the problem of polluted indoor air with Reair, a neat piece of kit that monitors the level of harmful gases, dust and carcinogens, even identifying potential problems ahead of time and suggesting actions to take.
“Have you ever wondered why it’s almost impossible to stay awake during lessons or meetings? It’s caused by harmful gases whose concentration indoors can be five times greater than outside,” the team points out. “Most of us spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors. You wouldn’t drink dirty water, why would you breathe dirty air?”
An image of Red Bull Basement participants Jiří Janoušek and Dominik Klement.
Jiří Janoušek and Dominik Klement

5. Improve connections in collaborative research

In addition to environmental issues, the international participants address a range of other concerns. Because practical considerations can be a roadblock for student field research, Hira Siddiqui and Warisha Farhat of Pakistan’s Institute of Business Administration, Karachi have devised UniThink, a “one-stop solution” that digitises research mediums and connects students with specialists in the same area.
“Today’s youth have the most creative potential to make an impact, but while modern education promotes analytical thinking, it doesn’t really address the problems of producing quality research,” the team-mates share. “The app can range from producing statistical insights, to predictive patterns, to fighting the limitations of time and resource mobilisation.”
An image of Red Bull Basement participants Hira Siddiqui and Warisha Farhat.
Hira Siddiqui and Warisha Farhat

6. Preserve disappearing cultures in a digital museum

Meanwhile, in Kenya, Kenyatta University students Hamisi Gonesi and Abdul Rehmtulla have conceived a digital museum, Culture Capture, where people can upload information about their cultures – from food to folk tales – to help document and sustain irreplaceable facets that are rapidly disappearing due to globalisation.
“Every two weeks a language dies, never to be spoken again,” say the team, who use gamified incentives to encourage participation. “Our goal is to develop a digital platform to record and preserve different cultures in a unique, entertaining and rewarding way. Call it funthropology!”
An image of Kenyatta University students Hamisi Gonesi and Abdul Rehmtulla.
Hamisi Gonesi and Abdul Rehmtulla
Find your own inspiration and keep up to date with the student innovators as they get ready to make their final pitch to the judges on December 13, 2020.