Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hi-Tech Inventions to the Fore

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hi-Tech Inventions to the Fore

Article excerpt

Byline: STEWART WATKINS

E'RE living in the future.

WIt's taken us some time to get here, but we're now starting to see progress on some of the inventions we were promised in the second-half of the 20th Century. We haven't got personal jetpacks yet, but we do have bionic feet.

The shortlist for this year's MacRobert prize (properly known as the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award) includes a prosthetic foot called Echelon which mimics the action of a real human foot more accurately than any other.

The technology used in the Echelon prosthetic is so effective that users are able to cycle or dance. Members of the armed forces using the new foot have even returned to active duty. It's not quite the Six Million Dollar Man, but it's a step along the way.

While the Echelon, designed by Basingstoke manufacturer Blatchford, received the most media coverage when the shortlist was announced, I was most pleased to learn that a North East company was on the list.

Lucite International UK Ltd is a British branch of the company famous for developing products such as Lucite and Perspex, and operates a facility at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham. It also has a base at Wilton, where a team has pioneered a new way of making acrylic products, called the Alpha process. It is this process which has been shortlisted. …

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