Revolutionary approach to touch screen technology wins ICT pioneer award

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photo of the stage at the ICT Pioneer awards ceremony

PhD students carrying out projects in the field of Information and Communication Technologies were recognised on Wednesday at an awards ceremony hosted by EPSRC with industry partners British Computer Society (BCS), Hewlett Packard, Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), ARM Ltd and Imagination Technologies, held at Church House Conference Centre in London. From over 80 entries, 20 shortlisted projects were selected and their projects showcased at the event. A winner was selected in each category and they were awarded £2,000 each.

The winners in each category are:

Connected World. Sithamparanathan Sabesan, at the University of Cambridge, for his low-cost ubiquitous passive radio frequency identification real time location sensing system. This project develops the ability to locate 'tags' with accuracies to within one metre which could have uses in retail, passenger and luggage location and document tracking.

Information Overload. Behrad Gholipour, at the University of Southampton, for his research into chalcogenides for the future. This project examines the use of chalcogenide thin films as a new electrical and optical material. The ability of this group of materials to conduct electrons and ions promises novel solutions for next generation logic and memory devices which could take us beyond the limits of the silicon chip and into a world where computers can think and adapt. Chalcogenides can also impact ultra-high speed optoelectronic switches to power the internet and future computers.

Technology Everywhere. Zdenek Kalal, at the University of Surrey, for his project entitled 'Predator: A Smart Camera that Learns from Experience'. Zdenek is addressing challenges in visual tracking in other words following an object moving through video (well demonstrated in computer games). Instead of a programme that will inevitably make mistakes, Predator accepts the mistakes, stores them and is then able to make better decisions in the future - resulting in a unique, real-time visual tracking system that improves its performance over time with the end result resembling the performance of human vision.

Transforming Society. Tom Kelly, at the University of Glasgow, for his 'City Sculpt' project. Tom has developed a procedural modelling system for use in architecture. His software allows artists to create a virtual environment using a wide range of models and common architectural forms. Current modelling systems require each new element to be created individually; eg an artist creating a city may be responsible for adding a door handle to every door. City Sculpt is cheaper and easier to use than tools currently on the market allowing small companies or artists to work with them.

Innovation for Sustainability. Jens Christensen, at the University of Cambridge, for his research into acoustic pulse recognition. This project is a new approach to touch screen technology. Current state-of-the-art touch screens require a layer of conductive material such as tin-doped indium oxide. Such materials are in limited supply and are extremely costly. The key feature of Jens' research is a technology requiring no additional hardware for its implementation. In other words it could be retrofitted to any device with a microphone and micro processor. The new technology could be capable of replacing current touch screens, adding touch screen capability to currently deployed models and even adding extra features to devices already containing a touch screen.

Each category winner was then invited to present a 'Dragon's Den' style pitch to a panel of academics and industry experts to win an additional £1,000.

The winner was Jens Christensen for his acoustic pulse recognition. Chief executive of EPSRC and one-time 'Dragon', Professor David Delpy said:

The level of innovation demonstrated at this event was outstanding. The future for ICT research in the UK is exciting and it is clear to see how science and engineering research can be a driver for economic growth. Jens' research provided an elegant and inexpensive solution to providing touch screen capability to existing phones. This is a win for both the customers and industry, fulfilling an unmet customer demand and satisfying the industry's need for newer and cheaper technologies to increase profit margins and sales figures. His pioneering approach is a deserved winner.

Reference: PN 12-11