A special story has come out of the 2014 Hills Young Australian Design Awards, with a computer gaming console controller design for children with disabilities taking the top prize.

The Novel Computer Game Controller, designed by South Australian young designer Max Hughes in collaboration with Flinders University and the University of South Australia, is designed to improve both the hand and arm function, and sense of touch for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

The device forces the child to use both their dominant and non-dominant hands to play games (referred to as ‘forced bimanual use’ by therapists) and assists in the therapy of teaching a child with CP to use their non-dominant hand more often than they normally would.

The controller is designed to be operable within the known motor capabilities of children with Cerebral Palsy which enables a child to engage in the popular social activity of interactive computer gaming for longer.

The controller pivots on a central axis which is the sole motion needed to operate the controller. It uses proximity sensors to ‘detect’ whether both hands of the child are located on the haptic regions of the controller, which send vibrations through to the user’s hands to give a tactile sensory aspect to the game play.

Hills Ltd CEO Ted Pretty said that the judging panel was particularly impressed with the ingenuity and access consideration in Hughes’ design.

“The panel was extremely impressed with the ingenuity of the game controller and theopportunity it gives children with a disability to play video games when they normally wouldn’t be able to do so,” he said.

“As well as good aesthetics, the ease of use keeps the child engaged for longer which means there are potential therapeutic benefits too.”

Along with $10,000 in prize money, Hughes will now be given the opportunity to work alongside commercial and academic experts at the Hills Innovation Centres.

The awards were announced along with the 2014 Good Design Awards in Sydney on May 28 as part of the 2014 Good Design Festival, in association in VIVID Sydney .

Other award winners included:

Forcite Police Helmet by Alfred Boyadgis, Hills Design Technology Award









The Forcite police helmet system incorporates enhanced communication abilities, active footage streaming and number plate recognition displayed in the head up display of the helmet. This technology will allow motorcycle officers who are often first on the scene in congested CBD areas all over the world to properly respond to emergency situations.


Kamodo Fishing Kayak by Andrew Godin, Hills Design Innovation Award

The kayak uses modern materials to deliver a product which is almost half the weight of existing plastic rotomolded alternatives. The central feature behind the equipment modularity of Kamodo is the Octagon fastener. An innovative, lightweight and flush piece of hardware, it provides a strong universal mounting system for all Kamodo fishing accessories. With an eight-sided internal keyway the mount provides adjustability for a range of equipment angles. The Octagon utilizes 3D printed glass re-enforced nylon for a light and tough fixing.


Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Alex Goad, Hills Design Sustainability Award

The MARS acts as a modular skeleton, mimicking the height, width and complexity of natural reef environments. MARS can be laid on the seabed to combat coral bleaching, transplant corals, regenerate damaged habitat and to create brand new ecosystems altogether. 

Each Mars unit is designed to clamp to each other to form a mega structure that can be custom built depending on the desired size and geographical layout of the sea floor. Its18kg unit weight means divers can assemble the structure rather than conventional artificial reef products which require barges and cranes.

All Images courtesy of Hills Young Design Awards.