All posts by Elizabeth Allen

Student app takes speed messaging to the next level

Ravi app

Whether running late for a meeting or catching up with a friend, everyone has experienced the mad phone fumble to fire off a brief “I’m on my way” message as quickly as possible.

A new iPhone application created by a Computer Science student from the University of Lincoln, UK, offers a simple solution to this common problem, saving users vital time while sending messages.

‘Written’, created by Raviraj Minawala from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, is a handy widget which enables users to programme their five most frequently-used messages and three favourite contacts into the notification centre on their iPhones.

This means that users can swipe down from the top of their screen at any time, no matter which application they might be using, and send a message via SMS, iMessage of WhatsApp with just a couple of clicks.

Raviraj said: “In today’s busy society speed is of the essence, and as our lives become more intertwined with our smartphones it is increasingly important that they support our hectic schedules. Written allows users to send their own pre-defined messages, such as “where are you?” or “I’ll be there in 5 minutes”, to their favourite contacts within a couple of seconds, and does away with the need to stop what they’re doing, find one of the traditional messaging apps and type out their text. 

“With the emergence of features such as iMessage and WhatsApp, it is clear that there is a huge appetite for ever-more efficient messaging systems and Written takes this to the next level. It is very simple but very effective.”

Written is available to buy now and it has already proved highly popular with iPhone users, climbing to fourth in the Utilities category on the UK App Store. It has also received favourable reviews on a number of leading technology sites, including CultOfMac, iPhoneItalia and AVR Magazine.

This newest creation from Raviraj follows the success of his previous app, ‘Addial’, which places a dial-pad in the ‘Today’ view of the notification centre, making it possible to place a call from anywhere on your iPhone. Written does the same for users sending messages.

Raviraj has also developed iOS ‘tweaks’ that includes ‘Pluck’, which allows users to access the music library from the Lock-screen and Control Centre to instantly play or queue music. Another tweak called ‘Define’ allows access to the Dictionary, Wikipedia or Thesaurus from anywhere using the Control Centre – without leaving current content.

To find out more about the app, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqc_0jU_hrY , and to see more examples of Raviraj’s projects go to www.ravirajm.com or follow him on Twitter, @rv1raj.

Welcoming BAXTER – the University of Lincoln’s newest robot

baxter

The University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science has welcomed a new robot capable of sensing and manipulation in workspaces shared with humans – the first of its kind at the University.

The arrival of the new BAXTER robot at Lincoln’s Centre for Autonomous Systems heralds the start of a research project, supported by the Research Investment Fund (RIF), exploring the potential for human-robot collaboration within the manufacturing industries.

Led by Dr Marc Hanheide, the collaborative Manipulation for Adaptive Human-Robot Collaboration in Manufacturing (McMan) project will involve researchers from across the Schools of Computer Science and Engineering. Together they will use the new BAXTER robot as a test-bed and demonstrator for industry-relevant research into how humans and robots can work together to improve productivity, safety and efficiency in manufacturing workplaces, as well as safety-critical robot control.

The BAXTER robot is produced by Rethink Robotics as a cost-effective solution for businesses handling low-volume, high-mix production jobs. BAXTER has already been integrated into some factory workforces across North America to support employees with tasks involving the handling of light-weight products, such as line-loading and packaging.

At Lincoln, researchers will explore how BAXTER can be programmed using smart sensor technologies to create a prototype for human-robot collaborations, which can then be used as the basis for future studies.

Dr Hanheide, Reader in the School of Computer Science, said: “Facilitating closer human-robot collaboration in manufacturing has been identified as one of the key “technology clusters” where progress is most essential for Europe’s future. Enabling robots and humans to work more closely together will help SMEs to become more cost effective, and help citizens to improve the productivity and quality of their working lives.

“The integration of sensing and cognition technologies into robots is fundamental to enabling this collaboration, so that they can predict human motions, participate in joint tasks, ensure safety, and adapt to the needs and abilities of different individuals. The McMan project will build our capabilities to do precisely this. While some of our other research projects focus on autonomous robotics and engineering applications in manufacturing, developing a robot capable of sensing human and responding to human action is a new and very exciting research area for the University.”

The McMan team, which also includes Professor Tom Duckett from the School of Computer Science and Dr Argyrios Zolotas and Dr Andrea Paoli from the School of Engineering, will aim to hold an industry workshop as part of the project, to disseminate findings and explore new opportunities for research and collaboration with local and national manufacturing businesses.