Inspiring future minds to crack Connected Living
Our world is fast becoming a connected world, where our homes, workplaces and cities are seamlessly linked through multiple smart objects. Connected living is increasingly influencing the ways in which we shop, travel, relax and work, with the number of smart objects around the world set to reach 50 billion by 2020.
Capitalising on this growing trend, Atos tasked a series of student teams with creating the best concepts for connected living in last year’s IT Challenge. This annual competition was set up in 2012, with the aim of fostering innovation in the next generation of IT professionals.It challenges some of the most talented students globally to tackle the latest technology challenges and develop new solutions to address the changing digital landscape. More than 300 students from universities around the world took part in last year’s challenge, with the French team behind Comfort Train emerging as the winners. Here, I take a look back at the winning application and explore how far the team has progressed to date.
Challenging future generations to push the boundaries
Having been personally involved in the competition last year, it’s been very rewarding to see how the Comfort Train team has evolved its proposition over the past 12 months. My role was twofold; firstly, I was responsible for managing and coordinating the technical and end-user experience assessment of each entry, testing each one for its design and ease of use. We used a Delphi methodology, where feedback was given by a panel experts and each app scored against a list of criteria. Secondly, over the past year, I have been coaching the Comfort Train team to help it take its solution from the initial concept through to the implementation stage in train stations and carriages.
The team behind Comfort Train designed an app that analyses camera data from platforms to compute the flow of people boarding and leaving the train, helping passengers to identify the least crowded carriage to sit in. It was designed so that new train and tube networks could be easily integrated, wherever the individual might be travelling. The judging panel was impressed with the app for its excellent technical design, intuitive interface and great business case.
On a journey to make Comfort Train a reality
The team has come a long way since being crowned the winners last year and is already in talks with train stations in the country regarding the future of the app. However, there are a few stumbling blocks which must be overcome before they can progress further. We are currently supporting the team to try and establish how we can work through some technical challenges around image recognition, and how the data from train station cameras can be analysed to identify how many people are getting off and on each carriage. With our expertise in mobile apps, we’ve made some recommendations about how best to implement the solution and which technologies will provide them with the best performance and accuracy in image recognition; and the team are making real progress in this area.
Once the team has addressed the image recognition challenge, it will be full steam ahead for Comfort Train. I’m relishing my role in coaching the team and look forward to the moment that the solution will first be deployed!
For more information about last year’s challenge, the entries and judging, please visit the contest website and look out for my next post in a few weeks’ time where I’ll be discussing this year’s competition, focused on the ‘Right to be Forgotten!’