PhD student selected to attend the TUTOREM Twintide Autumn Training School

A PhD student from the School of Computer Science was one of just 30 first year post-doctoral students chosen from all over Europe to take part in a week-long training school.

Kwamena Appiah-Kubi, attended the TUTOREM Twintide Autumn Training School in Bled, Slovenia, which aims to improve participants’ understanding of significant research methods used in human computer interaction (HCI). This understanding will help them better select and combine appropriate research methods without impacting validity of research.

Relevant theoretical frameworks were addressed in individual sessions of TUTOREM, which consisted of lectures, workshops and discussions. In addition, student participants collaboratively work in small groups on a mini-project, which was won by Kwamena’s team.

He said: “The theme for my group was “How crucial is it to make a good first impression”, with the goal of exploring how first impressions affects a user’s experience of a website. Each group was asked to come out with a number of research topics on their assigned theme and develop a methodological approach to tackle each specific research question.”

The judges were impressed with Kwamena’s team, commenting they were well motivated and had a clear study set up.

Slides for the presentation are available here: http://www.slideshare.net/atokubi/group-3-tmp-1-first-impression

Computer software activist to give special guest lecture

Richard StallmanEminent computer programmer and software freedom pioneer Richard Stallman will be giving a free public lecture at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Stallman, often known by his initials RMS, is best known for creating a computer operating system composed entirely of free software.

He pioneered the concept of ‘copyleft’, which uses the principles of copyright law to preserve the right to use, modify and distribute free software, and is the main author of free software licenses which describe those terms, most notably the GNU General Public License (GPL), the most widely used free software license.

Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against software patentsdigital rights management, and other legal and technical systems which he sees as taking away users’ freedoms.

Stallman said: “There are many threats to freedom in the digital society. They include massive surveillance, censorship, digital handcuffs, non-free software that controls users, and the War on Sharing. Other threats come from use of web services. Finally, we have no positive right to do anything in the Internet; every activity is precarious, and can continue only as long as companies are willing to cooperate with it.”

Tom Feltwell, from the University’s School of Computer Science, said: “Richard Stallman is very highly regarded and we are incredibly pleased to have him speaking at the University of Lincoln. His talk will be extremely interesting and non-technical so we would love to see members of the public come along to this special event.”

Stallman’s talk on ‘A Free Digital Society’ will take place at 6pm on Friday, 29th November in the Jackson Lecture Theatre, Main Administration Building, Brayford Pool Campus, University of Lincoln.

To register for the free talk please go to https://crm.fsf.org/civicrm/profile/create?gid=240&reset=1

L-CAS robot “Linda” competing in Robot Marathon

Researchers at the Centre for Autonomous Systems are studying how mobile robots can learn from long-term experience to provide service in security and care scenarios. As part of the European STRANDS project, they contribute to the development of robots that are able to operate autonomously, without the need of human intervention, in regular indoor environments like offices and homes over long periods of time. The 4 year project involving six academic partners from Lincoln, Birmingham, Leeds, Vienna, Aachen, and Stockholm has started in April this year. The EU robotics week (25/11/13 until 29/11/13) is the project’s first major milestone to show their robots working continuously and autonomously at the different sites. Lincoln’s robot “Linda” is patrolling its surrounding 24/7 during this week as part of the “STRANDS robot marathon”.

Strands_LogoLinda faces the challenge to safely and reliably navigate an environment that is populated by people and not customised to a robot’s needs. She will have to cope with changes that occur, such as lights being turned on and off, objects moved about, and people walking around. During the whole week Linda will be streaming live to the internet where the public can follow Linda on her patrol routes every day and night. Linda can be seen patrolling, charging autonomously, and visiting checkpoints that have been defined by the researchers. While this is the first step towards autonomous robots that can assist and help people, the STRANDS project ultimately aims to deploy robots like Linda to other sites where they will complement human guards to increase security and help staff in care facilities, facilitated by the project partners G4S and AAF, respectively.

Lincoln’s Linda robot is competing well so far (started at 10am this morning) and reports her progress on her very own marathon website where you can follow her live (including a video stream and a 3D WebGL visualisation of her environment). You can also follow her on Twitter.

New software showcased at national conference

A new internet service that allows content to be created and shared by people attending specific events was showcased at a national digital conference.

Dr Duncan Rowland, Reader in the School of Computer Science, presented the software Automics at DE2013: Open Digital at MediaCityUK in Salford.

He said: “The goal has been to create an internet service that can be rapidly deployed and customized for a specific venue to produce individualised sequential art style narratives. For example, the demonstration we presented at MediaCityUK, created by the team here in Lincoln in collaboration with colleagues from the HORIZON Digital Economy Research Institute at the University of Nottingham, allows visitors to the Galleries of Justice to create comic-style photostories of their day out. The basic technology, though, could be used in a variety of instances where groups of people want to create personal stories from shared resource material.”

Organised by the UK Research Councils, the digital showcase is a key event designed to create a community that is capable of world-class, leading research in the digital economy.

Now in its fourth year, the conference brought together the unique community of researchers from diverse disciplines including social science, engineering, computer science, the arts and medical research to share findings and network.

The UK Research Councils Digital Economy theme has invested £138 million in innovation projects and training since 2008, supporting research to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society and the economy.

University of Lincoln, UK