Garden grown by social media is all a Twitter at Chelsea

Twitter will be in control of a unique digital garden at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

 Fresh garden Digital Capabilities will respond to live Twitter activity, enabling the public to directly influence how the garden appears at any one time.

 Created by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK, working with award-winning designers Harfleet & Harfleet, the garden will be divided diagonally by an autonomous-panelled screen which separates the planting of two distinct zones.

 A tapestry of familiar plants and foliage will greet visitors, with the partially obscured exotic planting behind the partition providing a dramatic contrast. The panelled screen will respond in real-time to the ‘buzz’ of excitement about RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as measured by activity on Twitter using the #rhschelsea tag, with the inner depths of the garden only being seen when public excitement is at its peaks.

 The project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture who are all involved in the development of the installation.

 Shaun Lawson, Professor of Social Computing at the University’s School of Computer Science, said: “One of the things we’re trying to do through our research is to understand how digital media can be made to meaningfully intersect with the physical world. The garden is an opportunity to explore aspects of how we can interweave social media data with real space, as well as how it is possible to make sense of this data by creating thought-provoking visualisations. When people tweet, the screen will activate by opening various panels and permitting selected views of the ‘concealed’ garden. The planting inside represents the exotic or unknown immaterial world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction.”

 Head of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, Professor Harriet Gross, said: “I am interested in why gardens can be so important to our psychological well-being. Gardens often provide a space where people can think about things away from their day-to-day routines. They can also be places for public celebration and to share with friends and family. To reflect the variety of roles gardens can play in emotional and psychological well-being, our exhibit will contrast two distinct types of garden: one is familiar, available and safe. The other is hidden and exotic. Most importantly, the experience of the garden will be determined by people’s responses to it.”

Commissioned to provide the overall design is award-winning design duo Harfleet & Harfleet. Brothers Tom and Paul Harfleet share an interest in modern architecture and design innovation. Their first collaboration won an RHS Gold Medal and ‘Best Conceptual Garden’ at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010.

 Designers Harfleet & Harfleet said: “We’re thrilled to be presenting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. ‘Digital Capabilities’ is our first garden at the Show, made even more special as it’s the centenary year. The enthusiasm of staff and students at the University of Lincoln to realise this ambitious project has been inspiring. The whole process has been challenging and rewarding and has evolved into what we think will be a beautiful conceptual garden that represents the innovation in design that we are fascinated in.”

 Go to the project’s website at to find out more, follow the garden on Twitter @digcapabilities or tweet using #rhschelsea to get involved.

 The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place between 21st and 25th May 2013.

Computer Science students’ project showcase

Robotics, gaming and website design will all be showcased as part of a week-long event by students from the School of Computer Science.

Students, staff and visitors are all welcome to the event, which will take place from Monday, 29th April to Friday, 3rd May.

Posters and video demos detailing the projects will be on display along with various interactive exhibitions and student-designed games that will be available to play between 11am and 2pm every day, during the week.

Live demos and presentations by students will also be available all day on Friday, 3rd May, while visitors from industry and businesses tour the showcase. A panel will evaluate the presented work and choose a number of winners by the close of the day.

One of the students taking part in the event is Sean Oxspring, 21, who is studying MComp Games Computing.

He will be showing off a selection of his games throughout the week, while also presenting the work of others who have participated in various ‘game jam’ events he has helped to run.

Sean said: “My time at the University of Lincoln has definitely made me more confident in both my speaking and programming skills. I can now wake up in the morning, decide that I want to make a game – and then make it without much worry. It’s been wonderful to go to games related conferences and talk with designers working at some of my favourite companies. I can’t wait to start my own company and do more of what I love.”

Sean, who has taught computing and games design in schools across the country while at Lincoln, hopes to set up his own games development company.

Peter Anderson, 23, who is also studying MComp Games Computing, will be presenting a physics-based version of the Breakout video game. He hopes to get a job in the games industry, creating games or tools for developers.

Peter said: “Lincoln is a great city; the university is really friendly, is a great place to learn, and there are plenty of opportunities for experience. By giving us the chance to work on additional projects and challenging us in our assignments our tutors are preparing us for the working world.”

Dr Amr Ahmed, senior lecturer and event organiser, added: “We believe it is important for students to present their projects and be exposed to industries and business early on. It also encourages them to build their portfolio, in preparation for better employability. Following the success and feedback from last year’s showcase event, I’m pleased to be organising it again and facilitating this opportunity for our students.”

The event will take place across the third floor of the MHT building on the University’s Brayford Campus.

The School is always open for companies and potential employers to get in touch and participate. This could be the source for recruiting your next potential intern or placement student, if not new employee.

For more information contact Dr Ahmed at

Internship Opportunities!

Computer science student? Looking for an exciting internship opportunity? Dr Duncan Rowland and Dan Frodsham have secured funding for a number of Internships. Each one carries a bursary of £1500 and a variety of skills are required, both technical and creative, depending on the topic. Please contact Dr Rowland ASAP to find out more (these are likely to go quickly!)

Part of the focus for the project is to investigate the use of digital tools for the documenting, visualization and promotion of heritage issues. This will involve the use of laser scanning and the 3D modelling and visualization of churches. In addition, University of Lincoln students are being asked to contribute to the development of mobile applications that use image recognition to locate and identify frescos and to augment them with information for use by both art conservators and historians, as well as for educational purposes.

Please contact Dr Duncan Rowland for further details (

Plug in to a healthier future

Research to set up an online system enabling doctors to access patients’ health records from across the European Union has been launched.

The European Commission project, MyHealthAvatar, is designed to give people more knowledge and control of their health via their computers and mobile phones.

The programme will keep archives of each user’s electronic health records, as well as store data about daily activities and family history.

These combined factors, which may influence general health, would then be collated to predict and prevent potential diseases such as various forms of cancer.

It will also build a consistent continent-wide record of individual citizens enabling effective treatment should travellers become unwell anywhere in the EU.

The three-year, 2.4 million Euro study is dedicated to developing novel approaches to provide a solution that offers access, collection, sharing and intelligent analysis of long-term and consistent personal health status data through an integrated digital representation in silico environment.

This will help to deliver clinical analysis, prediction, prevention and treatment tailored to the individual subject.

The UK’s University of Lincoln is involved in the project, which is being led by the University of Bedfordshire’s Professor of Visual Computing, Feng Dong.

Professor Dong, who will be working with a team from the University’s Centre for Computer Graphics and Visualisation, believes the avatar “could reshape the future of healthcare”.

He said: “Although there have been similar projects to this in the past, we are hoping to learn from previous ideas which didn’t quite work to make MyHealthAvatar successful. I think one of the key issues is to make it people friendly and for it to be easy-to-use. Most of the data for the Avatar will come from the system itself and there is very little for the user to actually insert, or do.

“With today’s technology it is possible to use a person’s information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook to give us more details about a patient. With mobile phone tagging it is also possible for the system to show where the patient has been. So for example if they are regularly in the pub, it could suggest to the user that they are drinking too much.

“Additionally if they go to the doctors and told they have a disease, precise medical information will be sent their way; which a) reduces  the need revisit the doctor, and b) helps them research  online for healthcare information. So we are hoping this will make MyHealthAvatar stand out.”

The University of Lincoln’s Dr Xujiong Ye, who will be working with a team from the University’s Laboratory of Vision Engineering (LoVE), will primarily focus on the area of multi-scale medical image analysis.

Dr Ye, a Reader in the School of Computer Science, said: “We will develop novel image analysis algorithms and approaches using advanced computing technology to support accurate examination and reliable detection of a range of cancer diseases through the information available, from imaging data to histology data. It is expected that the availability of such information will help solve many uncertain cases caused by the ambiguity of data that is often seen at a single scale. For example, the analysis of histology images will provide significant measures to reach more trustworthy decisions for the detection of abnormal structures from the images at the organ level.

“We aim to build an infrastructure framework to allow us to collect all the health information required so we can create a 4D digital representation of the patient. This project is expected to exert a major influence on the reshaping of future healthcare in the handling of increased life expectancy and the ageing population.”

University of Lincoln, UK