Young Limerick scientists are making radio waves with big ideas

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts


Young Limerick scientists are making radio waves with big ideas!

Niall Meade, Ardnacrusha and Liam O'Mara, Lisnagry with the awards they received at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2017 Picture: Dave Gaynor

TWO Limerick lads are making ‘radio waves’ after coming up with business ideas which could impact on every day lives.

Cousins Niall Meade, Ardnacrusha and Liam O’Mara, Lisnagry, had hoped to work together in Young Scientist.

But due to the fact they are at different schools, the 13-year-old pair were not able to do this – Liam is at Castletroy College, and Niall is at Ard Scoil Ris.

Despite this setback, the pair both entered the contest at Dublin’s RDS – and both walked away with prizes.

Rugby fan Niall has designed a wristband, which acts as a communication system between the referee, the touchline judge, and linesman, with the hope being it will speed up key decisions.

Meanwhile, late-night drivers will no doubt be thrilled to learn of young Liam’s project – a sensory set-up which will enable traffic lights to remain green when there is only light transport on roads. Both projects utilise radio technology.

Niall came up with his idea while watching games at the Rugby World Cup in England.

”I’d been watching all the games and I noticed the referees had spent so much time debating, so I decided to investigate it,” he said.

He contacted former referee Peter Fitzgibbon, who secured him a seat in the TMO van for a Munster game, where he also met top official Nigel Owens.

“Here I came to the conclusion that there were quicker ways to make a decision and be more efficient.”

His device utilises radio and wi-fi technology to send signals between the match official team – and Niall hopes with the speed of his technology – just ten seconds – verdicts on key calls can be made much quicker.

He has already been interviewed by Irish Rugby TV on his design, and the IRFU has also shown an interest in it.

Liam, meanwhile, said: “I’m trying to get cars to go past traffic lights faster. I’ve designed a system where sensors are put into traffic lights and they calculate the distance between cars. They give this information to a computer board. It sets lights to go green and red depending on which car is closest”. Asked where his idea came from, he said it was when he was waiting at a red light with his mother! Despite not being able to enter Young Scientist together, the two cousins and best friends work closely, bouncing ideas off each other.

Niall’s mum Jane said Christmas at their home was taken over by wires and batteries as the pair tried to get their projects ready for the competition in January.

Attending the Dublin contest has done wonders for their confidence, she added, saying: “They had adults coming up to them asking them hard questions. But the boys responded really well. By the second day, giving the answers came as second nature to them!”