Group design projects

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The Cambridge undergraduate programme in computer science includes a strong design theme influenced by Crucible research, including research into computer science project work by Sally Fincher and Marian Petre. Students in their second year undertake an intensive design project working for an external client. Professional clients are often recruited via the Computer Lab Ring and Industrial Supporters Club. Annual prizes are sponsored by IBM and Credit Suisse, and Hardware and equipment has been loaned or donated by a wide range of companies, including a substantial number of Android handsets from Google, mBed controllers from ARM, XMOS boards and others.

A selection of these projects with explicit connection to interdisciplinary research concerns includes:

Clients from companies affiliated with the Crucible network include:

Bravo: Crowd Control

The purpose of this project is to model the flow of people through a building or a set of buildings, such as a museum, sports complex or the William Gates building. Every person would have a list of locations and places they would want to visit, possibly with some preset times and a preferred sequence, but also with a varying amount of flexibility for ad-hoc decisions. The model could be used to identify any bottlenecks, and to explore the effects of an alarm or a panic: Would people would have enough time to get to a fire exit, and would the emergency exits be able to cope? Groups can start with the 'open room map' of the Gates building, then perhaps move on to modelling one or more of the Olympics venues.

Client: Mike Lloyd Charlie: Digit[Ov]al automated cricket commentary

Cricket is not as well technologised as it could be, given that player positions are well-defined, and the short bursts of activity follow clear synchronisation protocols. The USB MeLock system provides wearable tags with accelerometers that can be used to observe activity, while received signal strength can be used to derive an estimate of location. Your goal is to create an automated cricket commentary system, that provides updates of player movements, runs etc, by inference from the known positions on the field and intensity of motion. Commentary output should be available to mobile users via animated pitch diagram, RSS, Twitter updates, or all of these.

Client: Peter Cowley, MeLock Delta: Hand Wave, Hand Wave

Increasingly digital devices such as phones, car navigators and games are making use of low cost MEMs sensors such as digital gyroscopes and accelerometers to provide spatial input controls from their users. The project brief is to make use of such devices to implement a system of controls using one or two handed motions to control an animated 3D display of objects. The controls should include methods of both controlling the view direction of the 3D display and additional controls for the animation of changes in the object. This could be further extended to provide a hand gesture based 'menu' system for controlling auxiliary features such as lighting controls and so forth.

Client: Alex France, FFEI Echo: iZoopraxiscope - Interactive Handheld Projector

Give Muybridge's Zoopraxiscope an interactive handheld update with an Android smartphone that incorporates a pico projector (we expect to provide the Samsung i8520). Develop a game with animal locomotion as a theme projecting characters and props from the phone onto a wall. A game that employs MotionBeam [Willis/Poupyrev] principles is desired as a starting point. Use one or all of accelerometer, camera, touch, microphone, compass to enhance the interactive experience. Introducing physical simulation and multi-player elements are among possible extensions.

Client: Kenny Mitchell, Disney Research Foxtrot: Lounge Star

Anything that makes waiting in airport lounges more entertaining is a good thing. The objective of this project is to create an app that business travellers can install on an Android phone, giving them access to all the facilities of the airport lounge (check-in, shopping, gate notification, frquent flyer clubs) via accelerometer input - tilt and gestures - alone. To be successful, the result has to be not just efficient, but enjoyable, so creativity is definitely required in this project!

Client: Cinu Jose, Amadeus Golf: The Energy Forecast

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 Hotel: Top Tips

Every day, thousands of the world's best stock pickers write to favoured clients explaining their best trade tips in 4000 characters or fewer. You'll analyse a large sample of this trade-idea commentary, develop some hypotheses about the textual attributes of money-making picks, and write a program to test these hypotheses by ranking trade ideas based on their comments. Then YouDevise will test your results by running your code against their full corpus of over a million idea comments and work with you to refine the hypotheses to get a practical idea-quality metric. If sufficiently predictive, your algorithm will be used in their online trade-idea system to rate commentary in real time for brokers and fund managers. (Note the idea corpus is highly confidential, so a formal agreement not to disclose its contents will be a requirement for participation in this project.)

Client: Douglas Squirrel, YouDevise India: True Mobile Coverage

Although mobile network operators provide signal coverage maps, they do not guarantee their accuracy. Quite often the maps are based only on digital models rather than on "real" surveys. Your task is to create a mobile signal strength surveying system that runs on an Android phone with a GPS receiver. It should be possible for multiple people to run surveys at the same time, to cover a larger area or more accuracy in a local area. The data should be easily accessible to phone customers as an overlay on street and/or topographic maps.

Client: Pawel Moll, ARM Juliet: Twitter Dashboard

Many companies (and indeed, the Computer Laboratory) are interested in tracking the real-time profile of public comments being made about them on platforms like Twitter. Your task is to create a user-customisable 'dashboard', suitable for large displays in varying locations such as open plan offices, staffrooms or company reception areas. The dashboard should provide a number of specialised widgets such as traffic volume, trend dynamics, tag clouds and others, with a configuration and layout tool that combines them into an attractive display.

Client: Alice Easey, Red Gate Kilo: Walk out of the Underground

When provincial academics arrive in Westminster, in the City of London or the West End, it is embarrasing to walk out of a tube station and not know which way to turn to get to your meeting. Rather than pull out a map, and try to figure out which street you are standing on, facing which way, a useful smartphone application would be primed with a capability like that of Vasco Pyjama's 'direction finding duck', to immediately get you walking the right way. You will use the Android platform, and need to give consideration to how meeting times and locations can be easily inferred from the content of email messages, URLs etc.

Client: Nicolas Graube, CSR Lima: Who is my Customer?

Organisations often have many relationships with a single customer, possibly including different street addresses, business divisions, phone numbers - or even the same information repeated but with typographic errors! Your task is to create tools and algorithms that analyse large quantities of customer data, remove string errors, aggregate near-duplicates, and construct models of how the different parts of complex organisations might be related. All of this should be rapidly browsable, with a user interface that allows exceptions and edit operations to be easily identified and controlled.

Client: Nic Greenway, Credit Suisse

Crucible Theme: Design education