Two Irish entrants from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and the University of Limerick are among the top 20 finalists out of a worldwide 650 entries for the 2013 €35,000 James Dyson Award prize.
Mark Dillon from Ballinteer in Dublin invented Mamori in his final year at DIT. The gum shield with integrated sensors measures impact on a sportsman and transmits the data to medical staff at the side of the pitch. If a concussion has occurred, the medical staff can react quickly and remove the player from the game and treat him before potentially fatal second impact syndrome can occur.
Kieran Normoyle from Fanningstown in Limerick invented Hydros while studying at the University of Limerick. Hydros is a three-piece lifejacket that mitigates the effects of cold-water shock, sea spray, hypothermia and secondary drowning.
Last month, Trinity engineering students Aoife Considine and Alberto Cañizares won the €2,400 Irish leg of the global Dyson challenge for their modern snowboard binding system that solves the problems of fixed-foot positioning and is designed to give full freedom when snowboarding.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Dillon’s invention comes at a crucial time in the sporting world with second impact syndrome gripping the headlines, most recently with the story of Dublin player Rory O’Carroll, whose concussion went undetected during this year’s All Ireland final. If there had been a second blow to O’Carroll’s head, it could have been fatal.
Dillon himself took inspiration from international ice-hockey star, Sidney Crosby, who suffered two concussions during separate matches. Both concussions went undetected, resulting in Crosby missing 60 games and needing prolonged medical attention.
“This project is well researched and stemmed from an interest in sports technology,” a senior Dyson design engineer said. “Mark has developed a device which solves a common but relatively unknown issue.”
Normoyle’s Hyrdos inflatable invention has been described by a senior Dyson design engineer as a simple but clever solution that could save lives.
“It’s an attractive solution which combats more than one problem. I think people are sometimes put off by bulky life jackets or floatation equipment.”
Normoyle took his inspiration from his time working as a lifeguard and medic with the Irish Army Reserve, where he saw many cases of hypothermia and the critical consequences.
“Bold ideas, big or small, can solve significant problems,” said James Dyson.
“The entries into this year’s award, from young engineers and scientists around the world, all show promise but are only at the start of the long process towards commercialisation,” Dyson added.