Computing Open Day, June 2016

Today was the University open day for 2017 prospective students. Over in computing we had a good vibe, lots of happy ambassadors, some great work on display and curious students and parents with lots of questions. Everyone seemed to leave with a smile on their faces and the ambassadors looked like they were having a lot of fun talking about their experiences of university and Brighton life. They were keen to show off the work they had produced in their time here – whether they had just finished first year, final year or anything in between.

There was a real feeling of solidarity between the teachers and ambassadors which was great to be part of, and really highlighted what we as a university are about, hopefully our visitors felt it too and came away with a sense of the community we have here.

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NHS Hack Day 2016

Last weekend saw NHS Hack Day London 2016. It was right in the middle of all my coursework deadlines, but there was no way I was missing it.

Saturday morning arrived and despite a rubbish night’s sleep I was excited to get going. When I got to King’s College the room was already buzzing. I spotted Simon who I had worked with last year and made a beeline for him. We had a great catch up and discussed continuing the project we had started together. There seems to be some pretty exciting developments and I’m looking forward to spending more time on it!

Then, the pitches started. There was some great ideas pitched including ‘beat the bleep’ an alternative to the bleep system used in hospitals, a CBT app, a low maintenance solution to patient records in field hospitals during highly contagious epidemics such as Ebola.

The one that caught my eye was looking at the use of virtual reality in a clinical setting.

Keith was originally asking for developers to create, from scratch, a 360 video viewing app which he could use in his practice.
A group of us were interested in getting involved but our skills didn’t really match his initial idea. After a lot of feeling like spare parts and chatting we finally decided that we could focus on the use of VR in clinical settings and settled on exploring how available consumer VR technology could be used to manage phantom limb pain in amputees.

We managed to come up with a few different ideas of how VR could be used in a clinical setting and experimented from there.

  1. The first technique we attempted was to record Keith moving his hands using a Rico Theta S camera mounted the Gorrillapod and duct taped onto his chest. We then tested this out using the Samsung Gear VR to see how it would be to look down and see our own arms replaced by his doing movements.You can see the videos and/or try them at home with your own VR headset here.
    It was bizarre. You looked down and could tellthat the hands in front of you weren’t yours but as they moved there was a weird sensation in your own arms and they would move in a similar way. Odd. Very odd.
  2. The second idea we tested was to create a low fidelity 3d animation of a persons legs. A few of us tried our hand at Unity to do this but with no luck. I got close but it wasn’t what I wanted. In the end I convinced Mussadiq to download 3DS Max onto his laptop from my autodesk account since I am now fairly confident using that software. We then create a 3d representation of legs doing exercises filmed from a human perspective. We had issues with exporting this in 360 degrees which was frustrating, so couldn’t test this using the VR headset.
  3.  Our next idea was to see if we could use virtual reality as a form of analgesia through distraction.To do this Keith and myself volunteered to do a Cold Pressor Test. This involved placing one hand into a bucket of cold water and ice and timing how long we can last.We then repeated this (after our hands had recovered!) but this time whilst wearing the Samsung Gear VR headset and watching a recording that we had filmed earlier (of our hands in the bucket without the ice water, again using the Rico Theta 360 camera).You can see the footage of me attempting to hold my hand in ice here.
    The results were really quite interesting – I had originally managed to hold my hand in the ice for 1 minute 30 seconds, whilst Keith accomplished 1 minute 11. They then both lasted a full 2 minutes longer with the use of virtual reality.Out of curiosity we also tested Reno with his hand in the ice water and watching a VR film. He lasted a full 4 minutes 22 before we got worried about his hand and pulled it out. He reported that during this experiment he not only forgot about the pain in his hand but also the pain he had been suffering in his back. One thing he did note that was when he looked down he couldn’t see his hands and that this pulled him out of the experience and triggered some pain.These experiments show some real potential for the use of distraction therapy in painful procedures (such as wound packing) in particular.

  4. We decided that in the case of phantom limb pain an idea would be to recreate mirror therapy but using a more immersive VR experience. To do this we trialed recording a 360 video of Keith doing arm exercises. We then edited the footage in Adobe Premiere Pro to add a mirror effect vertically through the centre of the film. This had the effect of duplicating his left limb on the right hand side. When using the VR headset this then gave the impression of having two arms.It would be important to make it as similar to the person’s real limb as possible. Therefore, this could be used with patients over a period of time where you record them doing certain exercises using a 360 video device, the footage is then taken away and edited to include the mirror effect and then used with the patient at a later date.Going forward this is something we would like to test with patients suffering from phantom limb pain.You can try the video out for yourself at home if you have a VR headset from here.
  5. We spent some time trying to mirror live streamed footage from the Ricoh Theta S to the Gear VR Headset but sadly found the the lag in transmission meant that this was ineffective in our tests.

You can read the full details of our project at

Then it was time to pitch. The progress groups had made on their projects was amazing. Some of my favourites included:

  • A CBT web app – which you can view here
  • Daily Pollute – an app to track daily pollution exposure.
  • A digital anesthetic chart

You can watch all the presentations here

All in all a pretty fascinating weekend for me, surrounded by really lovely and interesting people from all walks of life. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

You can see all the excitement from the event on Twitter by searching #NHSHD

University of Brighton Digital Award

The university is running a competition:

Do you have an idea using technology that could improve the experience for students or staff studying/working at the University of Brighton?

If so we’d like to hear from you.

The best four submissions will win £250 prize money. They will then be offered funding, up to £1000,  to help them develop their ideas as well as accessing a package of business support and advice from experts.

I decided it would be a good opportunity to submit a piece of coursework I developed last year – an app which is effectively google maps for the university campus it would help you find your way around uni, and allow searching for specific utilities, facilities and classrooms.

You’re working hard in a cafe and your laptop is about to die. You can’t see a plug socket anywhere. Instead of wandering around looking like a fool and wasting precious time you get out your phone, search plug sockets and order by distance. Phew! There’s one behind the couch your sitting on.  Your on a late night study session and need some caffeine to help you pull an all-nighter. All the cafes are closed, is there anywhere you can buy a coffee? You whip out your phone, check the app and find a coffee machine on the next floor. It’s your first week, you’re running late and you don’t know where your classroom is. You pull out your phone, open the app and type in the classroom name. Turn on GPS and you even get step by step instructions on how to get there. You need a computer with that pesky bit of software installed, but hardly any of them seem to have it. Open up the app, go to computers and filter by software – there’s a couple of rooms on the second floor with it installed. You click on C206 and see how busy it is – luckily there’s no class on and only a few people in there.

The app allows students to easily make the most of the variety of facilities the university has to offer which may other get overlooked. It would also be of particular use to freshers trying to find their way round.

For full details and to vote for my idea, please head to 

Final Year Projects

Last week was final year project day, so Sam and myself decided to check it out, see what people had been up to and what their plans were now.

Louis Carter – Digital Media

Louis’s project was based on augmented reality – he had created a little app where when you hovered a tablet over a card he had created, a little creature would pop up and start playing music. He created this using Unity, Cinema 4D and the Adobe Creative Cloud to create a fantastic little game.


When we asked him why he had decided to do this particular project he told us that it brought together all the different aspects of his course from the past few years. He had been inspired by the other fantastic augmented reality apps being developed at the moment and wanted ot challenge himself to create something similar.

Tom Brook – Business Information Systems

Unlike a lot of people in the room, Tom had not built something, instead he chose to write a dissertation. He decided to investigate the real world dangers associated with the Internet of Things – particularly focusing on privacy implications for businesses in the EU. He chose this topic as he wanted to learn more about IoT and has an active interest in politics. Furthermore, this topic is super relevant at the moment due to the EU Data Protection Reform 2018.

His project sounded fascinating, and I took a copy of his work to read for myself (which is having to wait till after my deadlines).

Tom has already secured himself a job for after he graduates in Texas. Very exciting stuff!

We were very impressed with what he had made and were hoping it would soon be commercially available but unfortunately not; however he does have other ideas which could be!

Rama Rahimi – Business Information Systems

This was a fantastic project with real potential to be used across the university – a uni-card app. Something so obvious we’re surprised it doesn’t already exist. An app that would allow you to check your balance, top up, borrow books etc all from your phone.

When we spoke to Rama in more depth about his idea, he told us that he thought it had potential to integrate NFC payments – allowing students and staff to pay via their phone linked to their uni-card account. Unfortunately, it sounds like he won’t be commissioned to finalize this project for use across the university.

He had also developed a device to show how easy t is to clone our current uni cards and emphasize the importance of adding more security to them.


He may not be taking over Brighton Uni with his Uni-card app soon but this guy is clearly going far.



Master of Malt

We noticed that there were a fair few company representatives wandering round the exhibition too so Sam and I decided to take it upon ourselves to interview some of them too.

The guys we spoke to were web developers and software engineers from Master of Malt, who described themselves as a tech company that happens to sell alcohol. We questioned them about why they were here and what they were hoping to get out of the day. The guys told us that they were looking to hire some upcoming graduates from Brighton as they tend to see more potential in Brighton grads than Sussex.They often come to this event as the project exhibition day is a great way to pick out and chat to students they might be interested in working with. They were particularly looking for students who had challenged themselves to do something different in their project and had had fun putting the effort into learning something new.

Overall it was a great day. We had a lot of fun chatting to the third years about the different things they’d been doing and were very glad that we were both going on placement so we didn’t have to think about our own final projects too soon.
There were loads of other fantastic projects at the vent – to find about more about them, and the ones we’ve mentioned please click here.


Experimenting in the TV Studio

Hi! My name is Becky and I am a second year Digital Media Development Student. Hopefully you’ll be reading a fair bit from me in the future, as I should be a regular-ish blogger on here from now on.

Today, I just wanted to show you some of the awesome stuff the guys on my course have been getting up to in our Time Based Media class. We’ve been lucky enough to have Simon Smith as our teacher for this last semester and he’s been brilliant and getting us involved in trying out new equipment and techniques. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been down in the university film studio creating our own mini Graham Norton like show. It’s been bonkers and great fun, and we’ve actually learnt a lot. Between us we were camera operators, directors, auto-queue operators, presenters, guests and probably more roles which I’ve forgotten… Quite impressive for a team of 8 at most!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the final shows to share with you, but I did take some photos.