One area that InfoLab21's academics specialise in, and the source of the latest commercialisation project, is ubiquitous computing. This may sound complicated, but the concept is actually quite simple. Computers have become something that people take for granted. As this has happened the computers have become smaller, faster and more powerful. They are ubiquitous- that is, all around us, in our lives and our daily routines. Computers are becoming more embedded into objects that we use everyday- phones, cookers, cars etc, and by embedding technology into existing products it is possible to create new products.
This is exactly what two academics at InfoLab21's Computing Department have done as part of a project called Firefly. They chose a simple item, a fairy light, and gave it a "technological upgrade" by embedding a tiny computer, creating the next generation of Fairy lights. This innovation will potentially revolutionise lighting displays like the Blackpool Illuminations and have great potential for advertisers.
The lights will work as a normal string of fairy lights, they also look exactly the same as a normal string of fairy lights but they are all individually controllable. This means that patterns and effects are much easier to implement and can be far more complicated than those that are available at the moment. In addition, the lights requre fewer cables, which makes deployment of the lighting array much easier.
The lights have been designed with scalability in mind and to get the best from the lights they are suited to being deployed in large numbers. Lights deployed on a large scale can be treated as a large display screen, each light representing a pixel. Each light can be manipulated to flash individually and in one of a series of colours. This means that it is now possible to create moving 3D coloured images using Christmas lights.
With funding from the University, applications to patent the technology have been filed and the team are now in negotiation with several local manufacturing companies to develop the product on a commercial scale under licence.
Currently the first large production run of lights is underway and these will hopefully be unveiled at a display at InfoLab21 this Christmas. This will complete the proof of concept and demonstrate to partners and clients the huge potential of this new product.
This project is still in relatively early stages, but the local manufacturing company chosen to partner the academic team could profit considerably and this will inevitably lead to the creation of jobs. This is just one example of how we are putting ideas into action for the benefit of regional companies and there are many more projects under development.
Thu 07 September 2006
The Engineering Department has been working with a group of “Aspiring Engineers” at Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy. Alongside listening to talks on a variety of topics from representatives from the Engineering Department and industry, the students were asked to think like engineers and devise a solution to a problem the world might face in 2050. Ideas ranged from trains to kettles of the future. The students presented their solutions as conference style posters to...
Fri 24 April 2015
Lancaster University and energy company EDF have teamed up to provide opportunities for students to gain valuable industry experience.
Fri 24 April 2015
Researchers from the Engineering Department have visited Lancaster Girls Grammar School, Ulverston Victoria High School and Lancaster Royal Grammar School to present research topics to sixth form pupils, and to challenge them to think like engineers to solve problems related to their research.
Fri 24 April 2015
School of Computing and Communications computer scientists are at the forefront of a UK-wide BBC initiative launched on March 12th to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
Story supplied by LU Press Office
Tue 31 March 2015