North school leads in wearable technology innovation

Wick High wearables
Wick High pupils demonstrate their wearables

 

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This week, Wick High School Computing Science department hosted a Wearable Technology competition in what is believed to be the first event of its kind in Scottish schools. Students in S2 designed an app for the cutting edge wearable technology platform of their choice with most students choosing either Google Glass, the Samsung Gear 2 or Pebble smartwatches.

Over the course of two months the students worked in teams of two or three to think up problems that could be solved using one of these platforms.  Once they had identified problems the students then had to move on to designing the flow of their app (how it progresses from screen to screen). Their task was made even more difficult given that they had to design their app to cater for the limited input; primarily voice recognition and very small touchscreens.

Event judges were Highland Council’s Ken Fox, ICT Operations Manager and Andy Robb, ICT Curriculum Liaison Manager and Abby Wilson, Fujitsu Service Delivery Manager.

Ken Fox said: “We were inspired by the pupils. The standard of presentation was exceptional and they all deserve to be proud of their achievements”.

This is the second year that Wick High has run the wearables design competition. However, this year they were lucky enough to get their hands on a set of Google Glass, Samsung Gear 2 and Pebble smartwatches.

Wick High Teacher, Chris Aitken said: “Last year we tried running a cut down of the competition and just focused on Google Glass. This year, with our students actually being able to experience the technologies that they would be designing for, we really saw a profound understanding of how these technologies worked and that translated in to some really innovative and interesting apps.”

He added: “Although the main driver of the course was app design, we also researched cloud data storage and underlying technologies to ensure that the students had a complete understanding of the whole picture. Having competitions like this really fosters a sense of innovation, challenge and creativity in our curriculum.”

Out of around fifty teams in S2, twelve were chosen to take part in the event final. These presentations can be viewed on the Wick High website at:  http://bit.ly/1v9tCKF. The whole event was Live Streamed using Google Glass and the recording viewed by people all around the world http://bit.ly/11sgtSh.

Most notably Bob Schukai, the Head of Advanced Product Innovation at Thomson Reuters tuned in from Atlanta, Georgia.  The week prior to the competition Bob flew in to Wick to visit the students taking part in Apps for Good (http://www.appsforgood.org/ ) to offer them tips and advice on their competition submissions. He also spent the morning working with the S2 finalists to improve their ideas.  Bob kicked off the competition by Skyping in to give the students some last minute motivation. He also watched the Live Stream and tweeted throughout the whole event.

The winning entry was “Imagine Glass” by pupils Kate Jolly and Holly Cunningham. Their design invites users  to access Google Glass and solve clues in their local area to find virtual boxes. Users can get out and about with friends and earn points and badges for each virtual box they find.

Runners up in the competition were pupils Isla Miller and Kerry Plowman for their “Nurses’ Aid” design which uses Google Glass to view patient medical records, ensuring a safer, and more hygienic environment.

Other project ideas were:

  • “Identifier” – a smartwatch app designed to allow police instant access to criminal records.
  • “Toddler’s First Stages” – a Google Glass app designed to capture momentous occasions in your child’s early years. The team proposed partnering with a photo printing company to create physical journals and Aurasma to allow the parents to use augmented reality to view videos directly on top of the printed page.

Fujitsu kindly provided prizes for the winning teams with the Imagine Glass team receiving Fujitsu branded portable Bluetooth speakers and the Nurses Aid team receiving USB drives.

Teacher, Chris Aitken concluded: “This has been a valuable learning experience for the students involved, bringing in multiple curricular areas from Computing Science, ICT, and Technical and Business studies.  The students involved showed a real confidence in their presentations. This experience will stand them in good stead should they choose to take part in “Apps for Good” next year. We are very grateful to The Highland Council, Fujitsu and Thomson Reuters for their support. The Wick High Computing Science department will continue to strive to embed innovation and creativity within our curriculum.”

 

27 Nov 2014
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