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GrindLife is a safer, lighter, and cheaper life jacket made from renewable materials.

Photo of Vince Bugni
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GrindLife is a new type of life jacket that is more breathable and flexible than conventional flotation vests, thanks to its lighter material composition of Nike foam. It is meant to be a cheap replacement to deteriorated or outdated vests on sailing vessels and in the consumer’s garage. There is also the option for a built in SOS button that can alert first responders in the event of any emergency.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Flashings
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

The foam will be used on the interior to make the jacket light, buoyant, and waterproof. The rubber flashing will be used for branding and accent.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

We created a prototype out of foam insulation, tape, rubber bands, socks, and paperclips.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

People who work on boats, people who boat for fun, people in underdeveloped areas who may not have access to life jackets. Not specifically athletes, more for the everyday person.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Make partnership with manufacturers, distributors, Nike, to produce Grindlife jackets on a large scale. Partnerships with charitable organizations that work in other countries would also help expand the company. Having a sailing company or similar organization demo the product would help with publicity. Important to work closely with safety regulation board to uphold safety standards.

How is your idea innovative?

Not only can GrindLife replace outdated and worn life jackets, but it can be built from the very jackets that they replace. It will take foam, and lightweight ground material out of garbage dumps. Our life jacket will also have an optional transceiver that can help locate the user in need of a rescue. It will also have a waterproof phone and key pocket on the chest, so your valuables will be safe and dry.

What inspired this idea?

Life jackets are traditionally seen as devices for people that cannot swim, but we want to change that way of thinking. We want to raise the universal safety standard for drowning risks by making this product more available and accessible to the people who need it.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

We are engineering students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, using what we have learned about design to create a great product for the challenge.

In what city are you located?

San Luis Obispo

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Being a top idea will give us the push we need to start making more realistic prototypes with the Nike Grind materials. We will also travel to speak with people who use life jackets, and see what they want out of a life jacket.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Vince Bugni and Cal Poly Team! Great idea. I was wondering if this might be an opportunity to create low cost life jackets that might become available for people living in locations where hurricanes are prevalent, to prevent drownings during these events. Would people buy these to keep at home, in cars, at work, to use in emergencies if cost was low enough? I wonder if local government agencies might be possible partners?

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