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[xpost] Delighted to see the enthusiasm for science from the participants at the PrimaryScience fair January 26, 2012

Posted by bodonovan in Smarter Enegry, Uncategorized.
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[This post was originally posted on Brian’s personal blog]

Sometimes people complain that the current generation of young people are losing their interest in and enthusiams for Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM). However, anyoine who visited the Primary Science fair at the Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS this week could not possibly believe that these complaints are true.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to help demonstrate the Watson system at the IBM stand in the afternoon, so I came to the RDS early and spent the morning wandering around the exhibition. The first sction I visited was the PrimaryScience sectioon and the enthusiasm and energy of the young pupils demonstrating their work was wonderful to see. They were clearly very enthusisatic about their projects and rightly proud of what they had done.

All of the project were great, but the highlights for me were:

  • The girsl from Mount Sackville primary presenting their project on Smarter Electricity at BTYSTEThe Mount Sackville project “Smart Energy” which looked at ways that the girls could be less wasteful of electricity both in school and at home. Of course I am biased by the fact that I was involved in launching this project, but the reality is that I had relatively little to do with the project.
    Once I introduced the girls to the topic they embraced the it with great enthusiasm and did not require much help. They used the current cost meters that I had set up for them to chart enetric usage and they summarised it in some wonderful charts. They also came up with great ideas for how they could be more effecient.
    I was also pleasantly surprised to see how prominently they  acknowledged the help they got from IBM.
  • Heat Driven MotorThe boys who were presenting the Unlimited Energy stand had built a number of different devices that showed different forms of energy being applied. Unfortunately I didn’t record the name of their school, but I couln’t help being impressed by the amount of enegry that the boys were putting into their involvement in the science fair as the battled with each other for the honour of explaining how each of the devices worked. For example, the heat driven motor shown on the right was powering a propeller from the heat contained in a cup of coffee. What was really cool about this type of motor was that no steam was allowed to escape and hence the motor is suitable for use on submarines and other environments when steam escaping would not be acceptable.
  • FunBrayziaThe FunBrayzia project from the boys at St Peter’s National School, Bray was a very clever choice of project because they analysed the physics behing the various attractions in the funfair. I don’t think it would have been too hard to get the young boys interested in funfairs. They had built very elaborate models of the various rides using and were using these to explain the physics involved.

Of course there is a lot more to the Young Scientist exhibition than just the PrimaryScience section. I will write up a fuller report later when I have a chance.


[xpost] My personal highlights from the BTYSTE exhibition January 22, 2012

Posted by bodonovan in Uncategorized.
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[This post was originally posted on Brian’s personal blog


While at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition last week, I had an informal wander around the exhibition hall and this is some of the exhibits that stood out for me. I did not have time to visit all projects so it possible that I missed some wonderful projects. I won’t cover the Primary Science fair because I reviewed it earlier.

  • I spoke briefly with one of the students behind the overall winning project and I was very impressed with how pleasant and down to earth he was. He managed to explain a complex project in simple and easy to understand terms. He also told me about his career plans and those of his partner – I have no doubt that they will achieve all of them.
  • The project which impressed me most, was done by a student from Avondale Community School which was entitled “Safe driving with the ice device“. This project was clearly inspired by the cold weather around the time of last years exhibition. The student had developed a novel system to deal with the problem of windscreen de-icing during cold weather. The problem he spotted was the fact that water used for washing the windscreen will often be frozen and so he built a simple simple electric heater which could melt it. Then if the windscreen begins to re-freeze, the driver can simply spray some hot water onto the windscreen which will unfreeze it as well as washing it. He even took into account the fact that often the water in the pipes leading to the window washer and/or the nozzles can be blocked with frozen water and so he added a compressed air system to assist with unblocking it.
    I think this is an idea with a lot of potential and the student involved was very eloquent and well able to explain the merits of his system. Here he is pictured with his model car demonstrating the system.

  • Two young second year students from Desmond College in Limerick won the overall group runner-up prize for their project “InVigil8 -A Personal Portable Security System” which combined 8 different devices to help with personal protection. I don’t want to seem dismissive of their achievements, but I was surprised to see that in most cases they had not actually developed any of the devices from scratch, but had instead adapted an existing device/alarm to a new usage pattern. However, what really did impress me (and presumably the judges) was the confident way that they could demonstrate their project. I think that these young students have a bright future in business even if they decide not to pursue a scientific career.

  • Another project which was inspired by last years unusually cold weather was “Smart Pipe – An Automated Water Circulation Anti-Freezing System“. This project implemented a system to stop pipes bursting during periods of freezing weather. The system they built had a motor to circulate the water within the houses plumbing system, this motor was automatically turned on when the temperature dropped below freezing point and this was effectively a less wasteful version of the old trick of leaving a tap running when freezing weather is expected. This trick is only effective when the water is slightly below its freezing point and so when the temperature dropped further the system automatically diverted water from the hot water tank into the cold water system. Since the cold water was already circulating the small amount of hot water added was dispersed and brought the overall temperature of the water only slightly above freezing.
  • The winners of the IBM award were two students from Tipperary who had developed a database of recordings of health and diseased horse hearts. They combined their database with an existing pattern recognition system so that vets can now submit a sample heartbeat recording from one of the horses under care and the application will tell them what heart disease (if any) the horse is suffering from. Read more about their project here.
  • The project “iCollapse:A mobile phone application for assisting those who are liable to collapse” should have won the prize for the most catchy project name is one was being given out. It also had a very clever and useful application – it uses the accelerometer and sensors in someone’s iPhone to detect when the person had collapsed and then it will automatically contact a carer to come check on them. This is clearly an idea with great potential and I hope the student involves goes on to make it generally available.
  • Another ambitious technology project was the student who developed the FreeFlowApp web site combining formal traffic reports with people tweeting about traffic issues on the twitter platform. I know from experience that this is a simple concept, but very difficult to implement in practice. At the exhibition the student had a working version of the web site – not only could I see him demonstrate it himself, but I was also able to access it myself on my phone. Unfortunately the site does not seem to be active anymore.

As well as the student exhibitors, there were also a number of exhibits run by professional science and technology organizations. Naturally I thought that the IBM stand was the best, but I was also particularly impressed by the stand run by Institute of Structural engineers. Their stand was not very complex, but they managed to get visitors actively involved in the real issues dealt with by structural engineers by getting them to build complex structures out of paper discs. As you can see from the picture some of the resulting structures were very complex and I think people seemed to be spending hours at their stand.

Video Tour of the #IBM stand at the #BTYSE 2012 – Come join us live on Saturday!!! January 13, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Uncategorized.
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Vote Now! Would love your feedback on our IBM Stand January 12, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Uncategorized.
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Facts and Figures about real world issues and smarter solutions from IBM January 10, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, Intelligence, Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities, Smarter Enegry, Smarter Healthcare, Smarter Transport, social-media, Uncategorized, Watson.
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Calling all IBM volunteers at #BTYSTE to share experiences January 9, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Uncategorized.
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Could I ask all IBM volunteers helping out at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2012 to share their experiences by leaving comments on this entry.

If you are Tweeting about the event, please use the hashtag #BTYSTE and @IBM_in_Ireland and please do Tweet!

Also be sure to post on the IBM in Ireland Facebook page.

Tag, you’re it! You can’t hide from RFID January 3, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, Intelligence, Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities, Smarter Enegry, Smarter Healthcare, Smarter Transport, Uncategorized.
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Visit the IBM stand and participate in our RFID activity – Tag your it!!

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a tracking technology that is used to uniquely identify and track specific objects. RFID uses radio waves to transfer data from an electronic tag, called RFID tag or label to an RFID reader and this data is then used to identify the object the tag is attached to. The RFID tag is interrogated by an RFID reader for the purpose of identifying and tracking the object the tag is attached to. Some RFID tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader (e.g. inside a box). The application of bulk reading of tags enables an almost-parallel reading of tags where tens or hundreds of tags can be read parallel. The tag’s information is stored electronically in circuitry on the RFID tag. The RFID tag includes a small RF transmitter and receiver. An RFID reader transmits an encoded radio signal to interrogate the tag. The tag receives the message and responds with its identification information.  Many RFID tags do not use a battery. Instead, the tag uses the radio energy transmitted by the reader as its energy source to broadcast the tags data.

Definition of RFID->

Traceability and types of RFID->

IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative, adds intelligence to everything from industrial supply chains to municipal traffic systems, and takes advantage of the increasing numbers of RFID tags and sensors that are rapidly being added to physical infrastructure. “This combination of real-time data, location-based data and domain-based analytics is very powerful.”

Read more->

Examples where RFID is being used:

Smarter Healthcare and RFID

Everyone has heard about tragic wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries. Using an RFID tag attached to a patient, a healthcare provider can now verify the correct patient, procedure and site – prior to the start of any invasive surgery.

Patients may also be tracked in a hospital real-time. This can allow patients requiring special attention to be tracked continuously. Healthcare providers can use the RFID system to easily locate patient and increase their productivity on rounds.

  • Ensures greater patient safety and accurate patient identification at the point-of-care
  • Improves medication administration helping to reduce medication errors
  • Provides asset tracking capabilities to reduce operational, inventory and labour costs
  • Provides a simple tracking solution of medical supplies from the factory to storage shelves, enabling efficient inventory management

IBM is now leading the way in the development and integration of custom RFID solutions to provide dramatic benefits for healthcare providers, caregivers and patients – as well as healthcare insurers, pharmaceutical and medical manufacturers.

Find out more->

Smarter Parking:

IBM and Streetline, Inc. are collaborating to help cities of all sizes reduce congestion, better manage parking availability and resources and put information at people’s fingertips to find parking faster.

IBM is partnering with parking technology firm Streetline to create a RFID enabled solution.  Their solution is embedding magnetic sensors within each parking space. This sensor can detect whether a car is above it or not. RFID technology then relays this information to a reader/repeater. These repeaters are placed on light poles and other stationary objects throughout the designated city area. The information is then transformed into a usable format and sent to end users.

This system correlates with Streetline’s Iphone application “Parker” which will graphically display where parking is available. The system can also be used in parking garages both to measure how long a car has been there, as well as directing newcomers to available spots.

Parking seems to be the new trend as a similar RFID enabled product rolls out for corporate parking lots. A RFID tag carried by the employee can be read from within the car and will open the front gate. A screen will also direct the newcomer to an available parking spot. This system, however, allows the tag to be taken with the employee. So if they are coming in the early morning with minimal lighting, RFID enabled lights will guide them to the building. If they cannot remember where the car was left, they can hold the tag near a screen (by the main entrance) and be shown the exact location of their vehicle.

Read more->

Press Release->


Washable RFID Tags track linen in hotels

Linen Technology Tracking and software specialist Fluensee. The intelligence of the product, called “Linentracker,” uses LTT’s SMARTtags and runs on Fluensee’s supply chain management platform.

Why the Big Brother approach? Simple: in the hospitality industry, one of the largest expenses of room occupancy is the growing cost of linen supplies — but until now, hotels are in the dark with regard to where those assets are, both when they’re in the hands of customers and when they’re being laundered by outside vendors.

Here’s how it works: each asset is scanned and monitored to and from the laundry, in and out of linen closets, at various check-in or check-out stations, down laundry chutes and even at pool and beach kiosks. AssetTrack monitors everything in real time, then offers insights via its reporting and analytics engine.

Learn more->

Smarter Food:
Technology is shaping how it grows, how it tastes and how it gets to your plate.
The food traceability framework from IBM takes an instrumented approach to your supply chain, as each asset is assigned a unique identifier. This could be a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag assigned to an animal, a barcode assigned to a package or an ID that represents the acre on which a crop was grown.

Find out more->

What is Scratch? Find out more at our IBM Stand at BTYSTE December 20, 2011

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, open-source, Uncategorized.
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What is Scratch?

Scratch is an application that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

Scratch provides a simple drawing tool to allow you create characters, backgrounds or anything you can imagine.  It also provides simple drag and drop programming tools to allow you make you characters come alive.

Find out more about “Scratch” by visiting their website->

Facts and Figures January 24, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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A visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Wordle: a visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Many people may not have been familiar with ‘word clouds’ before visiting our IBM stand at the BT Young Scientist: they probably are now. We used an anonymous questionnaire and an application called Wordle to get people thinking about Smarter Cities.

We asked them what could make schools, healthcare, transportation and the environment smarter. We also asked what skills would be needed in the future and what small steps could everyone take, to make our cities smarter. In doing so, we weren’t aiming for the publication of an official report. Our goal was to get a birds’ eye view of what younger generations think, in relation to the challenges our cities are facing.

The results were reassuring. Of all visitors to our stand, over 1,300 took the time to submit their views. Most of these were between 11 and 18 years of age. Here below are the top-rated answers.

Question: How can we make our schools smarter?
Top rated answers: more laptops, followed by e-books and online homework

Question: How can we make our healthcare smarter?
Top rated answers: instant lab analysis, followed by connected medical records and electronic records

Question: How can we make our transportation smarter?
Top rated answers: electric cars, followed by less CO2, parking finders and integrated public transport

Question: How can we make our environment smarter?
Top rated answers: green buildings, followed by water recycling and alternative energies

Question: What skills will be needed, to make our cities smarter?
Top rated answers: research, followed by engineering and I.T.

To the question ‘What could YOU do to make our cities smarter?’, we got a number of inspiring answers. ‘Usual suspects’ like saving energy, recycling, conserving water and reducing carbon emissions showed that younger generations are no strangers to the main challenges regarding energy and resources. Investing in skills was also a recurring thought, with a lot of students committing to study harder, pursue IT or scientific studies, enter next year’s BT Young Scientist, go to college… and even join IBM. Somebody with entrepreneurial spirit suggested they would set up an organisation to help make cities smarter in the future.

But in my view, the most encouraging part was the number of young people willing to ‘talk about it’, ‘put posters up in schools’ and ‘spread the word’. Here’s a generation who’s not only aware of today’s challenges, but also determined to take a stand and resolve them. Our future is in safe hands.

Student interview… as gaeilge! January 21, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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One of the students we interviewed last week was a fluent Irish speaker. With Italian, English and German under my belt, I always thought I was good at languages, but this time I was glad to be the one behind the camera. Fortunately Cormac, our interviewer, is also a fluent Irish speaker (or, as I am told, a “gaeilgeóir”), so all that was left for me to do was press the ‘record’ button.

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. To view this interview in English language (alongside all our other student interviews), check this previous blog post.