Case studies

1. University of Hertfordshire –
Robot-assisted play therapy for autistic children

Can a robot teach a child how to interact with others? Meet KASPAR, the interactive playmate who is breaking down walls for children with autism.

2.  University of Brighton – Dictionary production

Four of the UK’s five biggest dictionary publishers now use a system built on technology developed at the University of Brighton to keep track of language and how it varies and evolves.

3. University of York – Real time vehicle control

When you tell a vehicle to do something, timing is all important. That means you need on-board systems that can deal with a lot of processing and communications traffic efficiently and reliably without ever missing deadlines. Since the mid-nineties, the Department of Computer Science at the University of York has played a big role in making sure that happens.

4. Cambridge University – Payment systems

For more than 20 years, Professor Ross Anderson’s research team at Cambridge University has been investigating vulnerabilities in payment systems. Its work has pushed businesses and organisations to re-consider their security, and raised awareness of the risks of certain transactions.

5. Birmingham City University – Vehicle crash test analysis

Crash testing vehicles was once a long-winded process involving frame-by-frame examination. Technology developed in Birmingham in the mid-nineties helped to streamline that process dramatically.

6. Manchester Metropolitan University –
Evaluating health technology systems

Back in the 1990s, Dr Heather Heathfield set out to understand the reasons why so many new IT systems in healthcare failed. She was part of a team that developed a systematic methodology for evaluating these systems, making them easier to use and maximising the benefits for patients and clinicians.

7. University of Manchester – Pricing

In the early nineties, University of Manchester Professor Madan Singh launched an intelligent system that would help companies work out their pricing. The resulting company has assisted more than 400 companies in 80 countries.

8. Imperial College London – Clinical image analysis

Spot The Difference can be a relatively simple game. But what if the images themselves are deforming? Imperial College London spin-out IXICO has the ability to accurately spot subtle changes in the human body, even in three dimensions.

9. University College London – 3D Body Scanning

At the turn of the century, a team at UCL helped produce Britain’s first major survey of body size. That research led to a 3D scanning process that has proved popular with retailers, and has medical and fitness applications as well.

10. University of East Anglia – Avatars for visual communication

Translating speech into sign language isn’t as simple as just replacing words with signs. At the University of East Anglia, the Virtual Humans Group is blending AI, 3D animation and speech recognition to create a better way to get the message across.

11. Newcastle University – Drug discovery

A new approach to combatting disease has enabled Newcastle University spin-out e-Therapeutics to get a foothold in the pharma/biotech market, giving companies a new way to break down resistant bacteria.

12. Kingston University – Video image people tracking

CCTV systems are collecting information on people and places all the time. That’s a lot of information. Researchers at Kingston University are working on intelligent systems that can help humans to monitor all these images, and they’ve even found their way into concert arenas and sports broadcasts.

13. University of Glasgow – Communication standards

The Internet isn’t just about text and images anymore. As streaming video and audio become a big part of society’s lives online, the world is benefiting from the standards first laid down in the mid-nineties.

14. De Montfort University – Assembler program transformation

Imagine you’ve got a very old system that is performing a very important function. Do you risk updating it, or leave it alone? Academic research has helped to create a company that enables the world’s largest businesses to save money, improve their processes, and reduce the risk of catastrophic system failures.

15. University of Sheffield – Autonomous weapons debate

Are we ready to give robots the power to kill without human supervision? Longstanding robotics expert Noel Sharkey thinks not, and he’s taking the fight to the United Nations.

16. Aberystwyth University – Vehicle electrics design

For more than 20 years, Aberystwyth University researchers have been investigating teaching robots how to understand the world. Their work has had a huge impact on helping global car companies to improve safety, efficiency and design.

17. University of Leeds – Transport crew scheduling

Putting staff in the right place at the right time is a big challenge, and it’s even more difficult when you’re responsible for a transport company. Researchers at the University of Leeds have spent decades perfecting solution methods that can handle the complexities of crew scheduling, and have created a multi-million pound international company as a result.

18. University of Dundee – SpaceWire spacecraft networks

Out in space, spacecraft monitor our planet and send intriguing whispers from others. But how do the various parts of a spacecraft talk to each other? While there were once as many methods as there were companies producing spacecraft, a standard developed by the University of Dundee is now used by space programs across the world.

19. City University London – Complex data visualisation

We’re not short on data. But how can we present it in such a way that we can learn from it? The team from the giCentre at City University London explores new ways of  visualising large and complex datasets to help organisations make informed decisions.

20. University of Southampton – Web science

It takes more than just a technical brain to understand the Web. As it weaves ever tighter into our daily lives, the study of what it is and what it can be becomes ever more important.