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Posts Tagged ‘UCL’

Internet of Things = Internet of Trust

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment
That was one of several key observation from yesterday’s event at the BCS Chartered institute of IT. Others include a warning about Internet of fake Things as well as the critical role that you, the user, must play in order to ensure Things don’t get out of hand, so to speak. Read on to find out more…

IoT1

The sold out event started with an overview of Cisco’s initiatives and activities around the Internet of Things (IoT), which were vividly described by Sarah Eccleston, (IoT Director at Cisco). Covering everything from cows to ice cream, health monitoring to supermarket supply chain optimisation, she painted a picture of a future with IoT which is already starting to happen right now.
This was followed by a note of caution from Martin Lee, (Cisco threat intelligence), who warned that ungoverned, exponential growth of IoT devices and services could lead, among other things, to an “Internet of Fake Things”. According to him, now is the time to steer IoT development toward a safe and stable direction for the benefit of all.

Antonis Patrikios, (Director at FieldFisher), spoke about the legal aspects of IoT and privacy, as well as the need to ensure that IoT works for the benefit of people. He described IoT as the “Internet of Trust” because that is what will be needed to enhance user experience and address key legal challenges such as user privacy and the fact that “IoT is global, but the law is not”.

Finally, the University College London (UCL) provided a glimpse of real IoT projects developed by UCL post graduate students using Microsoft technology. They described realistic usage scenarios and demonstrated the ability to organise groups of Things, controlled via a “Captain” device, to support multiple uses of the same Things (or groups thereof). E.g. the same Captain device in a hospital room full of Things could service the use cases of multiple stakeholders, including the: doctor, patient, family members, building security and hospital administrators.

In the end, all speakers seemed to agree that the combination of IoT and Big Data will be THE game changer in the next wave of computing. There was a certain buzz in the air, as attendees and speakers discussed the possibilities and challenges posed by IoT. One show of hands survey indicated that attendees thought the Internet of Things was at least as significant as, if not more so than, the advent of the original Internet. It was also felt that user education, (e.g. by the IoT service providers, “Thing makers” and their collaborators), would be key to the success and acceptance of IoT by the general public – people are genuinely concerned about their privacy, personal safety and security.

To conclude, IoT is an exciting yet scary proposition, which is set to fundamentally influence the way we interact with information and the world around us. I hope we can get it right.

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Innovation through Collaboration

April 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Someone once said that true innovation is collaborative, and I’ve stated previously that innovation is often best observed in hindsight, so when the opportunity arose to help coordinate a BCS seminar about collaborative innovation (i.e. between business and academia) I was only too eager to oblige. 
 
As the title suggests, the focus of this event was to “showcase various initiatives designed to foster new collaborations between university students, researchers and industrial partners in order to unleash the full innovation potential of effective partnership working”. The speakers covered the gamut of that partnership by bringing perspectives from the world of academia and research, as well as from business and consulting, to give the audience a 360 degree peek at collaborative innovation in action.
Dave, Dean and Simon

Dave Chapman, Dean Mohammedally and Simon Elliot

Speakers, Dave Chapman and Dean Mohammedally, from the University College London (UCL) provided an inside view of the workings of IDEA London (including a tour of the facilities afterwards), as well as their innovative Computer Science & Software Engineering programmes which feature students undertaking real world projects with various sponsoring or client organisations. Simon Elliott, Head of Innovation at Worldline (an ATOS company) described how traditional enterprises are like walled gardens which benefit greatly by collaborating with universities which are like a small sprawling village or kibbutz (with flowing porous boundaries), to mutual benefit in tackling major challenges such as aging population,  mobile working etc. He also described the innovation process within his organisation and how they work in collaboration with universities such as UCL and IDEALondon.

 
The beauty of the UCL CS programme is that it provides a way for students to work with potential employers and entrepreneurs to develop real products and Proof-of-Concepts, as well as various Student Interest Group initiatives, e.g. the largest Hadoop cluster for education has been created, maintained and used by UCL students to provide services for real world business clients. The primary intention of the programme is to ensure graduates can acquire directly applicable skills and experiences for jobs in the highly competitive & selective digital business environment of today. 
 
To say I found this all very mind blowing would be an understatement. Although I’m pretty sure other universities, (e.g. Cambridge / Southampton / MIT / Stanford etc.), have similar collaborative partnerships, it was a real treat to see such an initiative closely intertwined to the unfolding evolution of London’s Tech City. I’ll definitely be back shortly to see what else they have going on at the UCL.
One cool collaboration Pod at IDEALondon

One cool collaboration Pod at IDEALondon

This event took place at the amazing venue of  IDEA London , an innovation ‘hot-house’ which was  launched in 2012 by David Cameron  and is located right at the heart of London’s Tech City . IDEA London was established by UCL, in partnership with  Cisco  and  DC Thomson, in order to offer a “unique opportunity for digital and new media companies to develop and expand with the expert help and support of 3 top world class organisations which are leaders in academic research, digital technology and media.  
 
In summary, this was another excellent event in the innovation series delivered by BCSNLB, in partnership with BCS Entrepreneurs and UCL. I can’t wait for the next event on 23rd April 2014, and I recommend anyone interested should make the effort to attend, if you are in London on that date.
 
Disclosure: In addition to coordinating the event for the BCS, the UCL (Dept. of Computer Science) is my alma mater, so you could say I have already drunk the Kool Aid, but please don’t hold that against me.

Augmented Reality: You Must Be Seeing Things!

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Augmented Reality (aka AR), looks increasingly set to play a major role in shaping the future of mobile computing, commerce, education and advertising. It isn’t far wrong to think of this as “electronic data mist” laid over mundane physical reality, but my main concern, as ever, is what happens when Intellectual Property Rights get thrown into the mix?

Specifically, who has the right to display what content over which physical area? Will it get to a point of digital saturation, i.e. the prospect of infinite virtual content over finite physical space? Also, how do you filter out the digital noise? I’m sure each of these questions presents immense opportunities for some digital entrepreneurs to make a killing over the next few years, i.e. if they’re not already doing so.

More to the point, I saw some fledgling offerings, precursors to a future AR industry that promises a wealth of content and applications, at last month’s BCS event on AR which featured two excellent speakers (a UCL professor, and the prominent blogger/founder of augmentedplanet.com) on the topic. Suffice it to say that they presented a feast of possibilities and opportunities for any far-sighted entrepreneur or venture capitalist to grab a stake in this potentially explosive space.

However, as with most things concerned with digital content versus physical reality, there is still a lack of clarity on governance, or rules-of-engagement, for when “digital meets physical” (sic). In light of the numerous battles fought by the music, film and publishing industries over digital content misuse or piracy, it is clear that the opportunities presented by emergent capabilities like AR will also bring its own unique challenges e.g.: privacy, limitations-in-technology, and the prospect of falling down an open manhole, or bumping into a lamp-post as your reality becomes increasingly over-augmented (for more info, you can read this excellent post about “the case against Augmented Reality”)

In spite of the above, the prospect of augmented reality applications becoming more common-place and making a real impact in the fields of medicine, education and commerce is indeed very exciting. I sincerely hope that AR will grow and flourish, overcoming the challenges that face it, in order to become an indispensible tool for this and future generations.