Longitude Explorer Prize (Team Iscort)
Image Source: Beth Crockatt

Member Article

Smartwatch app for the elderly designed by teens wins national tech prize

A team of young women from Greenford High School in West London has beaten hundreds of other teams from across the UK to be named the Longitude Explorer Prize 2020 champions, winning £25,000 for their school.

Lilia, Kathryn, Sophie, Eeman and Basira (all aged 14 and 15), the members of Team Iscort, were named winners of the national competition for young people at a virtual awards ceremony introduced by Science Minister, Amanda Solloway. The team’s TOMODACHI smartwatch app is a personal assistant for the elderly and those suffering with memory loss.

‘Tomodachi’ is Japanese for ‘friend’. The app is a smart assistant that brings together multiple functions: a digital companion, a communication bridge with loved ones, an organiser, and a cognitive skills trainer all in one. The app aims to help elderly people and those experiencing dementia retain their independence and have confidence undertaking daily tasks that most of us take for granted. It also helps to ease the effect of existing symptoms of dementia through intricately tailored assistance with the help of machine learning.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “This year’s Longitude Explorer Prize has demonstrated the very best of British ingenuity, with original and diverse entries being submitted from every corner of the United Kingdom. I congratulate all the finalists and particularly the winners, Team Iscort, whose impressive smart assistant app will help older people to live a more independent life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this next generation of innovators.”

Three runners up secured £10,000 each for their schools. Ocean Cleanup by the Walton S-AI-lors from Walton Priory Middle School in Staffordshire is a fleet of Artificial Intelligence (AI) catamarans which travel the ocean scooping up plastic. Freewheelers by Team ADOA from Pilton Community College, Devon, is an app which helps users find accessible routes, avoiding steps, steep gradients and obstacles that could impede wheelchair users or people with pushchairs. Ocu-helper by Team iMedia from St James Catholic High School in Barnet, London, is a wearable device which uses spatial and visual AI to support people with visual impairments navigate their surroundings.

In addition, more than 13,000 votes were cast by the public to choose the People’s Choice Award. Team STF Gowerton of Gowerton School in West Glamorgan won £5,000 for Theo the Therapy Dog. Designed by a team of autistic children, the robotic therapy dog supports other young autistic people who want to become more independent.

Constance Agyeman, Head of International Development and Communities, Nesta Challenges said: “When we launched the Longitude Explorer Prize in September 2019, we had no idea of the extraordinary events that would impact every part of our lives this year. Science, technology, engineering and maths are essential subjects for all young people in the global knowledge economy especially as the world rebuilds and repairs. Pairing STEM with entrepreneurial skills empowers the next generation to transform bright ideas into real-world solutions, to become the successful innovators and industry leaders of the future.”

Launched last September, the Longitude Explorer Prize 2020 called on young people aged 11-16 to design technology enabled solutions incorporating AI, to some of the great challenges we face – climate change, an ageing population, living healthier lives, and future transport – under the banners of living greener, living longer, living better and living together. More than 800 young people from across the UK entered ideas ranging from robotic rovers to deliver medicines to people stuck at home to devices that help people reclaim urban wasteland and build farms.

The Longitude Explorer Prize from Nesta Challenges, in partnership with BEIS, supports young people to learn creatively about STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) whilst honing important entrepreneurial life-skills that do not usually get taught in the classroom. The finalists were named in March 2020 before the full impact of Covid-19 had been felt. Despite the challenges of school closures and lockdown the finalists continued to work remotely to develop their ideas and produce prototypes with the help of dedicated teachers, supervising adults, mentors, and AI and design experts ahead of the judging day last week.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Andrew McKay .

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