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Twitter tech used in award-winning garden

Expertise from the University of Lincoln has once again contributed to a win at one of the world’s most prestigious flower shows.

The Essence of Australia garden, which Dr Duncan Rowland from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science worked on, won a Gold Medal and Best in Show at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Dr Rowland’s research into how Twitter can be used to control and affect external objects was used to regulate a water feature within the garden.

This follows the University of Lincoln’s Gold win at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2013. The unique Twitter-controlled garden, Digital Capabilities responded to live Twitter activity, enabling the public to directly influence how the garden appeared at any one time.

That project was a cross-disciplinary collaboration between academics from the University’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture together with designers Harfleet & Harfleet.

The inspirational Essence of Australia garden was designed by the Australian landscape designer, Jim Fogarty, for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne in partnership with Tourism Victoria, Tourism Northern Territory, Qantas and leading UK tour operator, Trailfinders.

It tells the story of the Rainbow Serpent, an Aboriginal dreamtime story about a mythical creature that lived underground and created the mountains and the gorges. Visitors can ‘wake up’ the serpent by tweeting #EssenceOfAus. The presence of water in the Australian landscape is also an integral part of the design.

The garden celebrates Australian flora and contemporary design, evoking the relaxed feel of Australia and Australians’ love of outdoor living as well as celebrating the states and gardening landscapes of Victoria and Northern Territory as two key travel destinations for British holidaymakers.

Dr Rowland’s primary research interests focus on engaging in creative practice to explore the human condition via relationships with digital devices and more traditional media.

He said: “It was fantastic to see Twitter activity controlling the water feature, which represented the waking of the mythical serpent. But what is also nice on a personal level is that the curiosity-driven research I initially did on interfacing and Twitter has had such immediate utility. I began by simply turning my desk lamp on and off with Tweets and set up a Tweet-able webcam in my office window. The work developed and was then included in the Digital Capabilities garden last year.

“It’s great to be able to evidence the value of blue-sky research at Lincoln and it has been an honour to work with such well-respected horticultural talents again.”

Dr Rowland’s research is also used in the University’s STAN (Science Technology Architecture Networks) research project, which is exploring whether architecture is able to reflect and map human emotions.

The STAN garden, which is controlled by people’s responses via Twitter, consists of an articulating raw steel structure that continuously transforms itself.

It has already appeared at the Garden Up horticultural event in Sheffield and the Lincolnshire Show.

Essence of Australia garden

Essence of Australia garden

Posted in Events, Research, School news, Social media, Staff.

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Research presented at international computer vision conference

Two papers from academics in the School of Computer Science were presented at the world’s premier computer vision event.

The CVPR conference, which took place between June 24-27 in Ohio, is the highest-ranked venue in Computer Science.

According to Google Scholar Metrics, it is also the top publication venue in the field of computer vision and pattern recognition.

This year the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science was represented with two papers.

The first is ‘Gauss-Newton Deformable Part Models for Face Alignment in-the-Wild’ by Dr Georgios Tzimiropoulos and Maja Pantic.

Dr Tzimiropoulos’ research finds applications in face recognition, facial expression analysis and human behaviour understanding. In particular, prior to recognising someone’s identity or understanding his/her facial expressions, a computer program must be able to accurately detect and localise the facial parts like the mouth and the eyes, as well as track their deformable motion in video.

This very well-known computer vision problem, also known as face alignment, is a difficult one, especially when the faces to be analysed are captured in-the-wild, i.e. there is no control over illumination, image resolution, and head pose variations or occlusions. Dr Tzimiropoulos’ algorithm aims to address all of these challenging cases. A video with illustrative face tracking results can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjCSWTFBrFg

The second paper is ‘A Bayesian Framework for the Local Configuration of Retinal Junctions’ by Touseef Qureshi, Professor Andrew Hunter and Dr Bashir Al-Diri.

This focusses on the development of a probabilistic system to accurately configure the broken vessels in retinal images.

Retinal images provide an internal view of the human eye (retina) that contains forests of blood vessels. These vessels provide useful information which can be used for diagnosing several cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

Computer-based automated extraction of significant features from the retinal vessels can help early diagnostics of these diseases.

The correct configuration of broken vessels into trees of arteries and veins is a prerequisite for extracting significant information from the vasculature.

Touseef said: “We achieve remarkable results in the initial experiments and intend to develop fully automated diagnostic system in future. Moreover, the proposed system can be optimized for other applications such as biometric security systems and road extraction using aerial images.”

Touseef outside the conference centre

Touseef outside the conference centre

Touseef with academic poster

Touseef with academic poster

Posted in Research, School news, Staff, Students.

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Become an ultimate Dungeon Master through Twitter

A new fantasy videogame that will give players the power to generate their own levels through Twitter has been launched.

Hashtag Dungeon is unique, in that rather than procedurally generating its own content, the game is tied to the @HashtagDungeon Twitter account which tweets out the code that becomes a whole new level of dungeon generation.

Create dungeons yourself using the built-in dungeon editor and tweet your levels to the world, or venture through levels created by other players. Assume the role of a Dungeon Explorer or a Dungeon Master in order to create a unique dungeon crawling experience.

Developed by graduate Sean Oxspring and current Computer Science undergraduate Kieran Hicks, from the University of Lincoln, UK, the game has been compared to the original Zelda.

Sean, who is a freelance games developer, said: “I had the original idea to create a dungeon crawler from tweets – relating letters to items in rooms. Together with Kieran and Dr Patrick Dickinson in the School of Computer Science we refined the idea and it became a collaborative design tool. Dungeons are made up of combinations of tweets with the same hashtag identifiers. I’m astounded by the feedback we’ve had so far.”

Called a roguelike, Hashtag Dungeon is a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by random level generation, tile-based graphics and permanent death.

The game challenges players to clear every room in a dungeon before taking down a final bad guy, and also allows users to create their own dungeons.

By tweeting code tagged as #HashtagDungeon, players can add new content in the form of rooms filled with monsters, traps and other content. All tagged tweets will automatically be uploaded within the game.

For those whose coding skills may be more basic, Hashtag Dungeon includes an editor option where players can build rooms by dragging and dropping elements and tweeting the results.

Kieran said: “I wanted to create a game that focussed on social integration and user creativity and expression. Using twitter as the means to generate dungeons helps to accomplish this. The whole game is built to be as social as possible; the room design system has a lot of depth to it to allow players to feel like they have control and can make design decisions. The idea now is to follow in the footsteps of games like Minecraft and Don’t Starve by adding content to the game over time based on player feedback.”

Dr Dickinson added: “Hashtag Dungeon is a unique concept which leverages social media in a very interesting way. Kieran and Sean have worked really hard in bringing this project to fruition, and the game is getting better and better, so I am glad they are getting some well-deserved recognition.”

Hashtag Dungeon has been launched on PC devices. To download go to www.hashtagdungeon.com

Hashtag Dungeon

Hashtag Dungeon

Hashtag Dungeon

Hashtag Dungeon

Posted in Games development, School news, Social media, Staff, Students.

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Thousands see University research in action

Visitors flocked to the School of Computer Science’s ‘Robotics and the Natural World’ stand at RAF Waddington International Air Show.

3D-printed robot MARC was on hand to greet people and members of the public could try their hand at the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, robot football and flying quadrocopters – the latest sensation in aerial remote control aircraft.

MARC – Multi-Actuated Robotic Companion – whose design is supplied by the open source project InMoov, is one of three robots created to help scientists understand how more realistic long-term relationships might be developed between humans and androids.

People also had the opportunity to listen to the sound made by an insect that died 165 million years ago when dinosaurs still walked the earth and also learn how the extinct Jurassic bushcrickets communicated.

The event, which took place on 5th and 6th July, 2014, saw almost 150,000 people attend.

University stand

University stand

MARC

MARC

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift

Dr John Murray demonstrating the quadrocopter

Dr John Murray demonstrating the quadrocopter

Quadrocopter

Quadrocopter

MARC's arm

MARC’s arm

Robot football

Robot football

John Stacey and John Lewak

John Stacey and John Lewak

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The Royal Society showcases the future of cancer treatment

A pioneering research project which aims to develop a more effective radiotherapy treatment for thousands of cancer sufferers is featured in a major public exhibition by The Royal Society.

Professor Nigel Allinson, MBE, from the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln, UK, is showcasing the PRaVDA consortium’s ground-breaking work into cancer treatment at this year’s Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from 1st July to 6th July, 2014.

The exhibit, which will also be supported by The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, will reveal for the first time the new technology (patents pending) they are developing which will improve the range of treatment options available for cancer sufferers.

The World Health Organisation estimates there are 14 million new cancer cases each year. In the developed world, it is the second biggest killer – responsible for about one in four of all deaths.

Half of all cancer patients will receive radiotherapy as part of their curative treatment. All high-energy radiation damages a cell’s DNA. Nearly all current radiotherapy uses external beams of x-rays. Protons, positively charged particles, offer a new form of radiotherapy.

PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) is a unique instrument that will let clinicians see in 3D how the protons interact with a tumour – the Holy Grail of Radiotherapy.

Proton beam therapy has the ability to deliver high doses of radiation directly to a tumour site with very little radiation being absorbed into healthy tissue.

This precision means that treatment is less likely to damage healthy tissue, vital in the treatment of tumours close to critical organs such as the brain or spinal cord. It is also particularly useful in treating cancer in children as there is less dose to healthy tissue which reduces the risk of second cancers arising later in life.

Professor Allinson said: “Bringing together clinicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists we are developing, with support from a £1.6 million award from The Wellcome Trust, one of the most complex cameras ever envisaged – to see in detail, in 3D, how protons deposit their energy in a tumour while the patient is receiving treatment.

“We use the detectors from the heart of the Large Hadron Collider, which provided the evidence for the Higgs Boson, to track the paths of individual protons. We also use the CMOS technology from smartphone cameras to accurately determine the energy lost by the protons in our body, though there is enough silicon in our instrument to make over 22,000 iPhone cameras.

“The exhibit will show how seemingly very different scientific disciplines and the strengths of commercial silicon integrated technology can come together to provide the missing element for the full future exploitation of proton therapy for the better treatment of cancer.”

The work of the PRaVDA consortium has the potential to make this revolutionary form of treatment a viable option for thousands more cancer sufferers. Radiotherapy would be shorter and more effective and there would be opportunities to combat some common cancers which have resisted conventional treatment.

The PRaVDA consortium comprises; University of Lincoln, University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, University of Surrey, University of Liverpool, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust; United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Cape Town South Africa, University of Warwick, National Research Foundation (NRF) – iThemba LABS, SA , Advanced Oncotherapy Plc, ISDI: Image Sensor Design and Innovation Ltd aSpect Systems GmbH and Elekta AB (Publ). The work has been sponsored by The Wellcome Trust.

The Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition is the organisation’s premier public engagement event of the year, showcasing cutting-edge science and technology research in accessible and exciting ways.

 

 

PRaVDA exhibit at The Royal Society

PRaVDA exhibit at The Royal Society

Professor Nigel Allinson

Professor Nigel Allinson

PRaVDA exhibit

PRaVDA exhibit

Interview with Professor Nigel Allinson

Interview with Professor Nigel Allinson

Schoolchildren at the PRaVDA exhibit

Schoolchildren at the PRaVDA exhibit

Schoolchildren at the PRaVDA exhibit

Schoolchildren at the PRaVDA exhibit

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