Two Irish inventors shortlisted for James Dyson Award 2023

20 Oct 2023

Oasis developed Joel Olympio. Image: James Dyson Award

Joel Olympio of the University of Limerick and George Clarke of TU Dublin are in the running for a €34,000 grand prize at the James Dyson Awards this year.

Two inventors from Ireland are among those shortlisted for the James Dyson Award 2023 as the global engineering competition reaches its final round.

Oasis, a wearable device that helps people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to focus on the task at hand, and ErgoTech, which develops ergonomic laparoscopy tools to improve surgeons’ comfort and reduce wrist strain while performing surgery, are the two Irish finalists for the award.

They are part of a cohort of 20 global inventions that are in the running to win the James Dyson Award on 15 November, which includes a €34,000 prize to support next stages of development. Entries will be judged by engineer and inventor James Dyson, after whom the award is named.

Hong Fei Hu, head of electronics at Dyson, said that the award run by the James Dyson Foundation provides a platform for young inventors to showcase their innovative ideas on a global stage.

“It was refreshing to see so many inventions offering solutions ranging across medicine and sustainability,” said Hu.

Created by Joel Olympio of the University of Limerick, Oasis, which is worn like a pair of glasses, reduces visual distractions in open environments using electrochromic film to dim peripheral vision while keeping the main field of view in focus. This dimming can be adjusted and even turned off as and when desired.

“I derived the concept from ADHD research, which shows that ADHD varies by environment and individual needs. The best way to treat ADHD is at the ‘point of performance’, which modifies natural points where the impairment occurs,” explained Olympio.

“I found that adults with ADHD need different spaces for different work; an open environment for collaborative work and a closed, distraction-free environment for detail-oriented tasks. The problem is this space is not always available or accessible.”

Meanwhile, George Clarke of TU Dublin created ErgoTech, which is a medical device that addresses the problem of “excessive flexion of the wrist” which can cause repetitive strain injury in surgeons using current tools.

ErgoTech allows for a more “neutral” hand position, aiming to reduce pressure on the radial digital nerve of the thumb and the palmar branch of the wrist.

“During the summer of 2022, I embarked on a month-long internship shadowing a medical device design. This experience uncovered an inspiration to design in the medical device space. I learned that medical devices were design by male engineers for male hands,” Clarke explained.

“I wanted to design a device that improved the overall ergonomics of surgery but also to improve patient outcomes and prolong a surgeon’s surgical career. An interview with a cardiovascular surgeon who performs laparoscopic surgery uncovered the poorly designed tools in this area of laparoscopic surgery.”

Last year’s Irish leg of the James Dyson Award was won by Méadú, a wooden board to help older primary school students overcome maths anxiety by making lessons more interactive. Previous Irish winners include designs for an ‘everlasting shoe’ and a repeat-use medical kit.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic