Student’s invention in line for James Dyson Award

5 Jul 2010

Jonathan O’Toole, a student of Product Design and Technology at the University of Limerick (UL), is competing for a top international design prize, the James Dyson Award, with his invention Siúl Skool.

Siúl Skool is a paediatric treadmill designed help children and infants with disabilities to walk. Developed in conjunction with motor research undertaken by Caroline Tuelier from the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science at UL, Siúl Skool was designed so infants could benefit from research that has been conducted and proven in the US.

Siúl Skool is a slow running track system, which the child is lowered onto and is held over while they interact and play with the product. This early intervention helps the infant to build up muscles, reduces tightening and improves their gait and balance. The design is unique in its use of adjustable visual cues and gait patterns that will provide stimulus and encouragement for the child during physiotherapy. O’Toole believes it will help to reduce the time taken to walk in infants with disabilities such as Down syndrome and spina bifida by up to five months.

“It’s good to see Irish design finally getting recognised. It was a year-long project and it’s a product that can really change people’s lives,” says O’Toole.

Competition and results

The invention will compete with designs from 17 other countries for the prestigious award. The public are invited to acknowledge their approval of designs but the finalists will selected by a panel of design and engineering professors and professionals in each of the 18 participating countries.

“The public vote has very little to do with the award, it’ll get you noticed but then it’s down to the judges. The finals are assessed by James Dyson himself,” explains O’Toole.

The finalists will be announced on 14 September, with the winner being announced on 5 October.