Feeds

UK 'digital tech hubs' to design future gadgets

Interactive kitches, digital jewellery, pedestrian satnavs and more

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

Microsoft, Philips and IBM have partnered with UK universities to create a trio of digital technology hubs, where cutting-edge gadgets for the elderly, disabled and rural dwellers can be developed and tested.

Based at Newcastle, Nottingham and Aberdeen universities, the hubs “will develop new technologies utilising wireless networks and GPS”, according to Lord Drayson, the Minister for Science and Innovation.

And the ideas are already flowing, with Newcastle University working on a hi-tech kitchen able to sense your movements and respond accordingly.

Primarily targeted at the elderly, The Ambient Kitchen will contain a series of electronic tags and sensors built into everything from the appliances and cupboards to work surfaces and the kettle.

For example, the kitchen could determine you’re making a cup of tea by sensing that you’ve picked up the kettle, filled it with water, taken out a teabag and reached for a mug.

But if floor-based pressure pads detect that you’ve been standing in the same spot for too long then a projector would beam a reminder to take your medicine onto a near-by wall.

The university’s also inked plans for digital jewellery designed to reduce feelings of loneliness or anxiety. A middle-aged daughter rubbing their necklace, for example, would cause another sync'ed piece of jewellery miles away to gently vibrate.

satnav_shoe

Firebox's satnav shoe was an April Fool's gag

The purpose could be to remind, say, an aged parent staying in a nursing home that their grown-up kids are thinking of them. It would also be an easy alternative to a phone call.

Also on the cards is a pedestrian satnav and personal GPS locator. The satnav could be worn on your wrist and let you plan a route by foot. Some satnavs already offer similar features. Perhaps Firebox’s April Fool idea for a satnav shoe isn't so daft after all?

GPS locators could be built into personal items, including notebooks and pedometers, to help the elderly be easily located by carers, friends or family.

Professor Paul Watson, Director of Newcastle University’s digital technology hub, claimed that “we could see life-transforming solutions reach the market within three to five years”. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.