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The Bottle Buoy Project

Posted in LIFELINE October 2016 - English

What is the General Concept of the Bottle Buoy Project?

Bottle Buoy is a purposely designed low-cost floatation device that aims to remove the single biggest barrier of implementation of rescue equipment in low income countries. It comprises of a single piece plastic part, that, when combined with three reclaimed 2 litre soft drinks bottles, gives sufficient buoyancy and form factor to be a capable throw-able rescue device.

How Did You Come up with the Idea?Mars Chocolate AwardSMALL

Through researching the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths worldwide I learnt that each year approximately 372,000 people drown (WHO 2014) with 90% of these deaths occurring in low/middle income countries. This is mainly due to poor water safety infrastructure and high monetary costs of rescue equipment. I therefore set myself a brief to design a throw-able buoyancy aid that could be produced at minimal cost. By using pre-existing plastic bottles as buoyancy chambers this could be easily be achieved.

How Did You Fund your Project?

The idea was initially funded by myself during my final year at the University of Huddersfield where I studied Product Design. I was able to utilise the rapid prototyping machines owned by the University and used the local swimming baths for testing purposes. The RNLI have now become involved in the development of Bottle Buoy and have been able to fund the tooling which will enable mass manufacture.

Benson James 2SMALLHow Will the Project Will Progress in the Future?

As the RNLI have recognised Bottle Buoy as having great potential to be an effective life saving device, they have incorporated the product into their ‘International Programme’ and aim to take the product worldwide. It will be very exciting to see Bottle Buoy being used around the world and hopefully it will have a positive impact on reducing drowning fatalities.


Any Suggestions for People Who Want to Develop SAR Technology?IMG 4220SMALL

I would suggest that being creative in tackling these issues plays a major part in developing a brand new never-seen-before product, therefore creating lots of initial concepts and then narrowing down to your chosen solution is essential. In this field in particular I think it is important to understand that it would be impossible to fully prevent drowning fatalities, but creating tools and products that can help reduce the likelihood of this will always be valuable in a life or death situation.


Photo Credit: New Designers, Mars Chocolate Award

Contact Info

International Maritime Rescue Federation
50 Allardice Street
AB39 2RA
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 1569 767405

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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