A University of Limerick graduate has won a top national design award for a device to help ADHD sufferers achieve a greater level of focus.
UL Product Design and Technology graduate and Cork native, Joel Olympio, won this year’s prestigious National James Dyson Award for his final year project ‘Oasis’.
Joel’s product Oasis is a device that reduces visual distractions in open environments and was designed to help ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) sufferers achieve a greater level of focus.
The core symptoms of ADHD including difficulties in sustaining attention and regulating impulses, can make it particularly challenging to filter out distractions in settings with a high sensory load.
The UL graduate has a unique insight, having been diagnosed with ADHD late in life. Realising the challenges he faced in certain environments, Joel undertook extensive research and interviews to uncover the common experiences faced by people with ADHD and to ultimately find an innovative solution to this condition.
Oasis aims to provide a sanctuary of focus within distracting surroundings, much like an oasis in a desert devoid of water. It harnesses the power of cutting-edge electrochromic film technology to dim the user's mid-to-far peripheral vision while maintaining a clear and focused main field of vision.
By selectively dimming the user’s peripheral vision, Oasis effectively reduces distracting visual stimuli in the user's environment.
Commenting on winning the award, Joel said: “I am thrilled to be named this year’s national winner of the James Dyson Award in Ireland. With Oasis, my aim was to design a tool rather than a mere disability aid. I hope that users will perceive this product as a superpower, a portable sanctuary they can carry with them anytime, anywhere.”
Professor Niall Deloughry, lecturer in product design and Joel’s final year project supervisor offered his congratulations to the graduate on his achievement.
“Joel has achieved this recognition for his final year project founded on amazing research and a rigorous design process that brought focus to the difficulties experienced by so many students and professionals through ADHD,” said Professor Deloughry.
“His knowledge of the challenges was exemplary and brought such empathy for the needs of individuals that he then embodied in his solution, Oasis. Oasis respects the individual’s need for a concentrated focus while allowing integration into group work environments without stigmatising the individual or calling unnecessary attention to their difficulties. I congratulate him on his achievement and wish him success in his already stunning career as an award-winning designer.”
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by inventor Sir James Dyson to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world.
Barry Sheehan, Head of Design at TU Dublin School of Art and Design and long-time judge on the panel said: “Oasis is one of those deceptively simple designs. At first glance it appears almost too simple. It is when you delve into what it does and why it does it, that you realise that it is solving a complex and little understood problem in a clever way.
“It does this whilst at the same time being timely, stylish and a hugely desirable product. The entry was beautifully presented, professionally accomplished and a standout of this year’s design competition. Oasis is truly a product for anyone, not just ADHD sufferers.”
Looking ahead, Joel plans to source the necessary technology and continue refining Oasis.
Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award is a significant milestone for Joel and his product; the award’s prize of €5,700 will play a crucial role in bringing a functional model to life.
Joel had previously won the runner-up Designer of the Year Award at this year’s School of Design Design@U50 Exhibition for Oasis, an exhibition that showcases the works of final year Product Design and Architecture students.
Oasis is now set to progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award. The international top 20 shortlist will be announced on 18th October, and the international winners on November 15.