When James Cameron set about making a documentary film at Earth’s deepest point in the ocean, the Marianna Trench, rather than sending in an Avatar, the legendary Canadian filmmaker sent himself. The project was filmed for broadcast on the National Geographic channel in the form of a documentary called DeepSea Challenge. Now, the team has been awarded the top prize at the 2012 Australian International Design Awards.
The historic dive project, which took place on 26 March, was planned and carried-out by an all-Australian team operating from Sydney. Officially called the Acheron Project, a team of scientists from leading Australian design consultancy Design + Innovation, aimed to put Cameron solo (or perhaps, so low) in a submersible reaching a depth of 10.99 km beneath the ocean surface. Among the many challenges the team faced was that of safely delivering the Terminator director to the ocean floor without sending him to sleep with the fishes, so to speak. Happily, Cameron made it back, made history, and made his way to AIDA, held on 24 July.
The awards ceremony is held annually by the Good Design Council, which is comprised of leading designers and business people from around Australia and elsewhere. The awards program offers new innovators an internationally-recognizable launching pad to help heighten consumer awareness of products or innovations.
The Verdict Is In
The AIDA judges showered praise upon Cameron and crew, calling the achievement a “signature moment in Australian design.” The DeepSea Challenger impressed the judges over projects in considered in nine other design categories.
“A stunning use of design at the highest order…this is incredible, inspirational, a total game changer,” commented judges.
Deepsea Challenge also took home the 2012 Best in Category award in its respective category. A quick glance at the official website for DeepSea Challenger shows just how well-earned the awards really are. According to the website, the customized submersible took Cameron to a depth of 36,000 feet without causing his ears to pop thanks to a specialized pressurization scheme. Confined to a space of only 109 centimeters, Cameron was forced to remain bent at the knees throughout the duration of the voyage.
The submersible featured some quirky innovations, no doubt cementing its worthiness for the AIDA-honor. A system of collecting water vapor from Cameron’s breath and sweat was devised. The filtered water could be consumed in an emergency (Waterworld, anyone? Wait – that was another director and a different bodily function). The DeepSea Challenger also boasted “cruise control,” as well a spherical helm – the shape most resistant to pressure.
In light of all that remarkable design, it is really no wonder that the crack team of scientists took home top honors. Even though the seabed found in the bottom of the Marianna Trench might not be as far away as the planet of Pandora, reaching it safely really was like finding unobtainium.