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Computer Science Showcase Success

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School of Computer Science students show off their final projects to industry leaders and fellow classmates in an exciting annual showcase event.

A Smart Mirror, a ‘Swords of Turing’ fighting game and chess lessons with a twist played a big part of the day-long event with undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Minerva Building, Atrium.

Senior Lecturer Bruce Hargrave said: “The event was a huge success. We had some great student projects on show throughout the day including postgraduate research, presentations and demo’s and it was great to see some local industry leaders getting involved in the day and giving advice to students too.”

Students created chatbots, games and other artefacts intended to ‘pass’ the Turing Test, under the title ‘Man or Machine? Can You Tell The Difference?’

Computer Science student Keiran Lowe said: “It’s been a really good experience and really valuable, because even though our project is in development, people who try the game have given us responses we might not have thought about. And because we have to programme each response in, we can add their responses to increase the knowledge base.

“It’s been a good event to showcase our project at, but also to test it on what people think.”

Watch Keiran’s project here:

Even Gadget Show presenter and University of Lincoln guest lecturer Jason Bradbury came along to see the projects in action. Jason helped students with ideas, encouraging projects to go further and promoting team work from start to finish.

Organiser Dr Amr Ahmed said: “This is another success and expansion over the last 4 years events. More guests and interests, better projects and demos, all made public in the Atrium for internal and external visitors.

“We are proud of our students achievements and annually organise such events to make opportunities for them to interact with employers and visitors to show their work. The panel find it more and more difficult to choose the winners at the end of the event. And they are looking forward for the next year’s event already. Some job vacancies have already been sent to us, from guests and employers.”

University Vice Chancellor, Professor Mary Stuart enjoyed the day too, adding: “What a wonderful event and so good to see all the work.

Lincoln researchers develop disabled-friendly interactive games

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University of Lincoln researchers have been working on interactive games to be more disabled-friendly.

School of Computer Science lecturer Dr Kathrin Gerling and Dr Adam Evans from Health Advancement Research Team (HART) have been creating computer games that allow young people with disabilities to use powered technology to interact on screen.

Dr Kathrin Gerling and Dr Adam Evans from Health Advancement Research Team (HART) have been working strongly with Lincoln’s St Francis School, a school that specialises in supporting young people with disabilities.

The technology allows the students to use their powered wheelchairs to help play the leisure games.

Dr Gerling said: “We wanted to see if movement-based games could be a positive experience for young people who use powered wheelchairs. When you use a wheelchair, you often have limited opportunity to take part in physical activity, and this means young people don’t have as much access to physical play as we’d like.

“There are many social benefits associated with taking part in these activities, which is why we thought it would be interesting to see if we could use games to create spaces for physical play.”

Collaborating with a group of students as a case study, they were asked questions about what games they were interested in playing, what they thought to games and physical activities in general, but more importantly, what their perspectives on representation of disability in games were – for example, if they wanted their wheelchair to be portrayed within the game.

Dr Gerling added: “Some of the younger students would say, “No I want to be able to play rugby and play all of these things, whilst a lot of the older students would say, “this is who I am, my wheelchair is a part of myself,” but would worry about introducing limitations to gameplay as a result of including disability in games.

Using student feedback, the project team built three different games: a skiing simulator game featuring a monoski, a robot boxing game and also a sensory experience game where you move through fields and see flowers.

The games aimed to interact with the movement of a wheelchair; if you wanted to punch in the boxing game you’d turn to the wheelchair to the right or left. Similar to the skiing game where movement would change the speed and direction of travel.

“Designing the games was challenging because we didn’t want the young people to be reminded of the things they couldn’t do,” Dr Gerling said.

“But the inclusion of disability in the skiing game was something players really appreciated when we took our games back to St. Francis – in fact, they commented that the game reminded them that just because you’re using a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate in certain things.”

Introducing Alfie – the prototype robot supporting the elderly

A robot being developed to help elderly people stay independent and active for longer has been named by residents of three local care homes where it is going to be tested.
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As part of the ENRICHME project – pioneering robotics research funded by an EU Horizon 2020 grant – residents from LACE Housing Association’s housing with extra care in Lincolnshire in the UK have called the first prototype robot Alfie.

ENRICHME (ENabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly) is an international collaboration involving the University of Lincoln in the UK.

The research will develop and test the ability of robots to support our ageing populations and see service robots integrated with ‘smart home’ technology in order to provide round-the-clock feedback to elderly users, carers and health professionals. Tasks the robots will be designed to help with include giving reminders to take medication, locating lost objects around the home and enabling video chat with family and friends to reduce loneliness.

The first ENRICHME development robot, programmed by artificial intelligence and robotics experts from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, was introduced to the residents in December 2015. During a special launch event, the researchers showcased the robot, explained the project and conducted some initial tests in the home environment to aid early development processes.

Residents from the LACE housing with extra care schemes in Lincoln, Grantham and Bourne were then invited to vote for their favourite name for the robot. ‘Alfie’ was selected as the winner from a shortlist of five names put together by the ENRICHME team.

Dr Nicola Bellotto, Reader in Computer Science at the University of Lincoln and Principal Investigator for the ENRICHME project, said: “We are delighted that the residents have named our first prototype robot, with ‘Alfie’ proving to be a popular choice. The name is a diminutive of Alfred, which means ‘sage’ or ‘wise’, and it also refers to the famous Lincolnshire poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, so it has wonderful connotations locally. The robot has received an extremely positive reception from the residents so far and we are pleased that they are keen to be involved at each stage of the project.

“The system we are developing builds on recent advances in mobile service robotics and ambient assisted living to help people improve health and wellbeing. It will be of particular benefit to those people who have mild cognitive impairments, for example older people who are still physically healthy but may have early symptoms of dementia.”

For more information on the project, visit: www.enrichme.eu