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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 10:32 GMT
Avalanche jacket wins award

Avalanche Avalanches kill skiers every year - but a new jacket may save lives


A unique ski jacket - designed to enable the wearer to survive an avalanche - has won the top award in a technology competition.

Graduate Matthew Teeling, from Swansea, who has a patent pending on his avalanche survival jacket, has already had talks with a clothing manufacturer keen to find out more about his idea.

The Welsh Development Agency - who backed the competition - will also help the 25-year-old inventor to develop the commercial potential of the jacket.



This seemed a very worthwhile project and not some pie-in -the-sky idea
Matthew Teeling
A ripcord in the jacket activates canisters of compressed air which create protective pockets to cushion the body from friction, pressure and falling snow and ice.

Made from a lightweight, flexible but impervious material, the jacket also acts as a buoyancy aid to help victims remain on the surface during an avalanche.

The air pockets also provide the wearer with an additional air supply and insulates against heat loss.

The judges said a phenomenal amount of work had gone into the project which was thoroughly professional, of exceptional quality, well researched and documented with obvious commercial viability.

Matthew intends to use his 1,000 prize money to develop the prototype jacket further.

The Swansea Institute of Higher Education graduate got the idea while on holiday in Greece.

'Potential to save lives'

He said: "Despite it being the height of summer I was watching a documentary on television about avalanches - the mechanics of avalanches and the associated problems - which inspired me to design a jacket that had the potential to save lives.

"At the time I hadn't decided what to do for my final-year project and this seemed a very worthwhile project and not some pie-in -the-sky idea."

The WDA Technology Prizes competition, now in its 12th year, is sponsored by industry and this year attracted nearly 60 entries for the six categories.

Each category winner receives 1,000 and help from the WDA to exploit the commercial potential of their projects.

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