Group design projects
The Cambridge undergraduate programme in computer science includes a strong design theme influenced by Crucible research. Students in their second year undertake an intensive design project working for an external client. A selection of these projects with explicit connection to interdisciplinary research concerns includes:
In Africa, radio still rules, but it’s mostly a one-way medium. Greater audience interaction could revolutionise radio, and help it play a role in the way citizens engage in public debates. You will help us tailor FrontlineSMS – a free software tool that turns a laptop and modem into a SMS communications hub (no internet needed) – to the uses of community and local radio stations. Radio stations in Africa will tell us what they’d like FrontslineSMS:Radio to do, and you will design a suitable UI and implement the functionality. Interface design will likely include interesting and informative ways of expressing large or smaller amounts of realtime text data for radio station operators. E.g. live word-clouds, message tickers, chart/voting for songs or discussion categories. Stations will also benefit from smart filtering and storing tools.
Client: Alex Anderson, FrontlineSMS
The weather forecast could just as well advise you to carry an umbrella as it could advise renewable energy producers, such as wind farms, how much energy they can expect to generate. By acquiring weather information for specific regions and the locations of such power plants, this project will estimate the amount of renewable energy produced in the past, present and future, and infer practical information such as effectiveness, profitability and prospective locations for new power plants.
Client: Hok-Him Poon, Bloomberg
Most knowledge-workers (and professional scholars are no exception) have a serious struggle to differentiate routine correspondence from management of the new ideas that make the job interesting. Design an automated personal assistant that filters email, infers rules on the likely response to routine items, and looks for thematic patterns in the rest. This can be used to track research ideas, or even set up new clusters of collaboration. All rules should be customisable by the user, and confirm proposed actions before sending a message that might be harmful. After a little ‘bedding-in’, the customised result might be indistinguishable from a real professor.
Design a programming language suitable for use by children, with a sufficiently compact user interface that the development environment can be run on a mobile phone. Children should be motivated to use this language to develop applications that are useful and of interest to them - it shouldn’t be like school! The Android platform will be used.
Systems like readyourmeter.org (from Cambridge) were developed to help remote monitoring of your house from the web. The next step is remote control of your house. Create a web-based programming environment, that will allow homeowners to do DIY software plumbing (scripting and configuration) of home media, energy and control systems.