Fascinating look into a brave new world at Bradford University's science day of invention and discovery (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Fascinating look into a brave new world at Bradford University's science day of invention and discovery
Stem curriculum development officer James Machell at the race to build molecules stand at the invention and discovery day at Bradford University
Bradford University’s Invention and Discovery Day gave a window onto science for prospective students who visited the hands-on exhibition on Saturday.
And it also revealed that the end of the supermarket check-out is nigh.
Different departments came together to display everything from simple examples of magical chemistry to the latest technology.
And one example of science fiction becoming fact is the advanced electronic engineering of Dr Prashant Pillai who has further developed an amazing eye-controlled wheelchair.
A year ago he unveiled the system where the user could guide the chair by looking at different areas of a headset.
“But we felt that disabled people have enough to cope with, so now we have progressed things and the chair can now be guided by a person’s gaze at a tablet, a little similar in principle to the new android phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S4,” Dr Pillai said. He said many recent advances in such civilian technology stemmed from military applications.
“For example, in a fighter plane the pilot merely looks at where he wants to aim the missile and there they go,” he said. The recent phenomenon of physically fit, but war-wounded people has also prompted innovations in medical electronic engineering and Dr Pillai demonstrated small pressure pads designed to go between flesh and false limbs.
“There is a real problem of bruising with new amputees, because they cannot gauge how hard their false foot is hitting the floor.
“But the pressure pads are attached to a vibrating belt which will read the level of impact and give them different levels of sensation.
“It can halve rehabilitation times – which is what we’re about, applying technology to improve people’s real lives.”
And Dr Pillai casually made a prediction on new technology which will change all our lives. “A new thing coming is Radio Frequency Identification tags which will replace bar codes on all shopping items. RFID means at the supermarket you will simply fill your trolley with goods, walk past a scanner and out.
“There will be no need to take a single thing out of the trolley. Every product will be scanned instantly.
“And your android phone will use NFC (Near Field Communication) to instantly receive and pay the bill.”
“That technology will be with us within five years,” Dr Pillai said confidently. And by that time we should all be heading back from the shops to our perfectly insulated homes, if design and technology postgraduate Alex Gusevs’ hopes come true.
He has built a model example of a Sustainable House, from clay, sand, straw and water complete with south-facing solar panels and underground heat exchanger to show the importance of energy saving in modern homes.
Chemist Kirsty Wills was stretching the boundaries of knowledge and charming younger visitors with her range of multi-coloured DIY slime. “It’s just a mix of a household cleaner called borax, water, food dye and glue and its great!” she said.
Back with technology, undergraduates Elaria Sefain, Nipun Patney and Majid Ali are part of a team working on hybrid electric bikes which will take part in an inter-university competition in Belgium later this year.
“It’s very exciting, we’re working on making a zero-emission vehicles which could hopefully replace cars,” Miss Sefain said.
So Saturdays may soon involve instant shopping at a staff-free Tesco before a silent whirr back to a solar-powered home.