Charlwood Design, in partnership with several other Victorian companies, has harnessed the latest in digital and other communication technology to enable people around the world to join the baton as it travels 180,000 kms to the opening ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Being selected from an extensive list of tenders for the coveted design project has special significance for Paul Charlwood, managing director of Charlwood Design.

“As a Melburnian, I wanted the baton to showcase what we’re capable of in Victoria. It needed to be something Australians would be proud of. To me this baton symbolises an opportunity to connect people across the globe while the advanced technology allows people who are not physically present at the baton relay to be involved, even from remote locations.”

Charlwood says the company was given free reign on the baton design to develop themes for the relay, technology and form.

“It was a great project as we were totally in control of the entire development process, the engineers had to work to our brief and we project-managed the complete manufacture of the baton.

“The main suppliers where State Automation (software, electronics) Rosebank Engineering (magnesium front which is machined from a solid billet) Arrk Silhouette, (prototypes and rapid plastic).”

The baton was made in Australia of gold, magnesium and rapid plastic, with only a few electronic components not sourced locally. The stand has a bowl machined from a solid block of aluminium and sits on a fibreglass base made by Moonlight laminating, manufacturers of surfboards.

According to Charlwood the main challenge was making the baton as light as possible (1.5 Kg) and keeping the grip size ergonomically correct.

“It was very difficult to fit all the technology in a narrow space and make the four transmitters work together. It has so much technology, which is not there just for technology’s sake; it is about gathering the images as it travels to Melbourne. You will be able to track it on the Internet or hand held devices and then come out and see it.

“The gold tip is twenty-four carat Victorian gold which is vacuum deposited so it is transparent, like an astronaught’s helmet, this allows it to reflect the strong sun light and at the same time let the rear camera see through it.” 

The special interactive online baton tracking features include baton data via satellite – information such as travelling speed, motion and direction; baton tracker – using the latest global positioning system technology; and baton cam which uses similar technology to medical imaging, two tiny cameras mounted in the baton transmit video footage to the website.

“The challenge was to blend form and function by creating something that was not only attractive, unique and technologically advanced, but also durable and capable of withstanding all weather conditions over a long period of time,” Charlwood explained.

“The baton has a distinctively modern look, with the tension and form of its slender frame reminiscent of an athlete’s body.  I looked to Melbourne and Victoria for inspiration and found two colours stood out – suitably, green and gold. "

"The tip of the baton is gold plated, which symbolises the gold rush that Victoria was founded on and brings a sense of light and elegance. The body of the baton is a deep, vivid green – a shade which features frequently in Melbourne’s many parks and gardens.

“Magnesium, often referred to as the ‘metal of the future’, makes up the front panel of the baton. Australia is one of the world’s largest producer of magnesium and the metal has special significance to Australia’s prosperity and economic future.”

Symbolic of the gathering of the nations theme, seventy-one blue LED lights on the front of the baton represent the seventy-one nations of the Commonwealth that the Queen’s Baton will visit on its journey to the games.

These will progressively light up as the baton arrives in each Commonwealth country and combine with thirty-six high-intensity green LEDs which will glow as the Queen’s message, inserted via a microchip into the baton by the Queen, is transferred from runner to runner.

The relay began with a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in March and continues for one year and one day on its journey around the globe, across land and sea, on bike, boat, elephant and horseback.

The relay concludes as the final runner enters the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the opening ceremony of the XV111 Commonwealth Games on 15 March 2006. 
 

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