Color-Changing Disaster Warning Balloon Wins Top Design Award | Be Korea-savvy

Color-Changing Disaster Warning Balloon Wins Top Design Award


ULSAN, Sept. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — A design idea for a special balloon that changes color based on the severity of a disaster situation has earned a prestigious global design award.

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) announced that it secured the top prize at the IDEA Design Awards, one of the world’s most esteemed design competitions, for its innovative disaster warning balloon, called “SAFEUP.”

This conceptual design received a bronze award, a distinction granted to fewer than 7 percent of all entries.


The concept behind this balloon, conceived by UNIST’s Professor Cha-joong Kim from the Department of Design, revolves around its use in cases of accidents or terrorist incidents that involve the release of harmful substances like radiation, chemicals, or viruses.

The idea recognizes that these hazardous materials are often invisible to the naked eye, and typical access or communication to the affected area is frequently blocked.


The balloon is stored within a capsule and is released over the disaster or terrorism site, deploying like a parachute.

Its surface is coated with a special substance that reacts to specific hazardous materials in the air, causing the balloon to change color, indicating the level of danger: red (high danger), yellow (caution), and green (safe).


Because these balloons are released in an elongated shape from a height of 4 meters above the ground, they are visible from a distance.

The color changes and messages are designed to be intuitive, ensuring that anyone can easily understand the level of danger.

UNIST campus viewed from above

UNIST campus viewed from above

The IDEA Design Award, organized by the American Industrial Design Association, ranks among the world’s most prestigious design awards, alongside the Red Dot Design Award and the iF Design Award.

Image credit: UNIST, Pixabay, Yonhap /

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