Buckingham lecturers invent the world’s first flushable camera drain pill

8 December 2017

Professor Darrell Mann at the the 7th Global Competition on Systematic Innovation, held in Tsinghua University, BeijingTwo University of Buckingham lecturers have won a global innovation prize for devising a novel solution to alleviate the problem of smelly drains and detect other problems in sewers – a tiny, flushable camera pill.

Professor Darrell Mann and Kobus Cilliers came up with the invention after being asked by a company in Melbourne, Australia, to find a way of viewing the condition of pipework of sewers along their entire length in order to spot any issues. They won first prize in the 7th Global Competition on Systematic Innovation, held in Tsinghua University, Beijing.

The pair were looking for an alternative to a human-operated CCTV system which only works on bigger pipes. They based the idea on cameras that go inside people’s bodies and by using a combination of GPS tracking and wifi connected video streaming devised a unit small enough to be flushable.

The camera can take gas readings and is able to record temperature – if the temperature drops fat congeals which is what causes the smell. The camera pill can map time and speed. This means that it is then possible to know where to locate fat traps and deal with issues that cause smelly drains.

Kobus, who has designed a range of innovative products, said: “It’s very expensive to inspect drains. It costs a lot of money to send people out and is time-consuming. This will be a fraction of the cost – it will save millions. If drains are frequently blocked it enables us to help find out why. Drains aren’t always exactly in the place they are expected to be – this way we can pinpoint their route precisely which makes repairing them or dealing with any problems much easier.

Professor Darrell Mann, CEO of Systematic Innovation Ltd, which is helping companies deliver tangible new value-added: “Winning the competition is recognition of innovative thought in action and is typical of the kind of real-world thinking that is evolved at Buckingham’s Innovation courses. Innovation is a fundamental building block of all successful organisations.”