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Posted: 14 February 2006

UCD Mechanical Engineering Graduate wins worldwide Motorola Innovation Competition with ‘Mood Phone’

John Finan, BE, Mechanical (2001) has been selected from a pool of more than 500 student entries spanning 220 universities worldwide to win the first-ever Motorola MOTOFWRD competition. His grand prize-winning concept, the mood phone saw him awarded a cash prize of $10,000, a Bluetooth enabled BMW and a suite of Motorola products at a recent New York award ceremony. It also won him the opportunity to serve an eight-week apprenticeship with Motorola’s Chief Technology Office focusing on the development of next generation Motorola mobile technology. During his apprenticeship he will research into how devices that give physical cues can enhance user experience.

Pictured at New York awards ceremony: John Finan (BE Mechanical, 2001), winner of Motorola’s Innovation Competition, and Motorola’s Chief Technology Officer, Padamasree Warrior
Pictured at Motorola awards ceremony in New York: John Finan (BE Mechanical, 2001), winner of Motorola’s Innovation Competition, and Motorola’s Chief Technology Officer, Padamasree Warrior

The biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate’s concept was judged to be best among the scores of ideas presented through Motorola’s first-ever MOTOFWRD competition that asked college students to envision the future of seamless mobility. Concepts ranged from the fantastic to the practical and included mobile technology that could access information, contacts, music and video with the blink of an eye, to location-aware cell phones that could lead to new friendships, inspire public debate, or help identify and book a vacant parking spot in a crowded downtown.

Speaking of the award winning concept, Padamasree Warrior, Motorola’s Chief Technology Officer said “The Mood Phone is a truly inventive technology solution to a problem most of us wouldn’t assume could be answered with a mobile device.” She continued “If the technology becomes reality, it would make all of our lives easier. But the most important idea here is that these college students who entered the MOTOFWRD competition have truly impressed us with their level of innovation and creativity.”

John graduated from UCD with a 1st Class Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2001. He has previously been awarded the NUI Travelling Bursary, and he has won both the UCD Engineering Graduates’ Association Essay Competition, and the IMechE Best Project Prize. He is currently completing his doctoral studies in biomedical engineering at Duke University. Further details of his winning entry can be seen at

“As his ex-project supervisor, I am very proud of John and his achievements” said Professor Michael D. Gilchrist, UCD School of Electrical, Electronic & Mechanical Engineering. “John was consistently among the top of his mechanical engineering class and he combined a rare level of academic brilliance with creativity. He keeps in contact with his Alma Mater. In fact, he visited very recently to give a seminar on the design of safety helmets to my Impact Biomechanics research group.”

Motorola is a Fortune 100 global communications leader that provides seamless mobility products and solutions across broadband, embedded systems and wireless networks. In your home, auto, workplace and all spaces in between, seamless mobility means you can reach the people, things and information you need, anywhere, anytime. Seamless mobility harnesses the power of technology convergence and enables smarter, faster, cost-effective and flexible communication. Motorola had sales of US $31.3 billion in 2004.

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