What began as a bit of a side hustle in his free time after work may well morph into an illustrious career as a professional problem-solver for Connor Musoke-Jones.
The product design student is shortlisted in a nationwide search for the Britain’s brightest new inventors for his door handle that works for people without a hand.
Inspired by a friend of a friend who struggles to open doors, Connor, 21, worked with people with hand and arm conditions to come up with the Unity Door Handle.
The product, which fuses ergonomics and anthropometrics and is cheaper and easier to fit than specialist doors, is up for innovation charity Nesta’s Inventor Prize.
“I have been doing this project in my free time after work each day,” said Connor, from Leatherhead. “As a kid, it was my dream to become an inventor. My teachers told me that it wasn’t a job that existed anymore.”
While studying at Brunel University London, Connor lived with someone with one hand who had difficulty with doors. “He was the inspiration for the idea of how to use a door handle with no hand.”
Talking to people with disabilities and muscle conditions such as arthritis, as well as healthcare workers, helped Connor figure out how his door handle could support, hold and direct leverage from different angles. And its sleek look is all part of the vision – to de-stigmatise mobility aids: “a product that makes everyone feel included, can’t look like a disability product, but has to work like one.”
One of 10 shortlisted for The Inventor Prize, Connor will get £5,000 plus professional coaching to get his idea off the drawing board. Announced this September, the winner gets £50,000 prize to get their product to market.
Just back from a sandwich year placement in Groningen in the Netherlands, Connor will run his own company TruRegard Ltd for the rest of the year, before returning to Brunel to finish his degree. “The course is great,” he says. “It is intense but it is filled with all the essential info I need to design and create a product for industrial manufacture.
“I particularly love (Brunel Head of Design) Ian de Vere’s direction and focus on socially responsible design, where human impact is the goal and money is a resource.”