NHEHS Team Designs AI Watch at Nesta Longitudinal Explorer Prize Semi-Final

By Grace Sergeant, Year 12

At the start of the year, a small group of us from Year 12 and 10 discovered a competition called the Nesta Longitudinal Explorer prize. The task was to pick one of four categories and design a product around that category that incorporated AI. Our group chose the category ‘living longer’ and designed ideas for a watch, specifically adapted to the needs of the elderly, without over complicating it with hundreds of confusing features. We worked hard to figure out as many of the details as we could and submitted our application. We made it through to the semi-finals and were invited to a day of workshops in Stratford on January 30th, to meet other teams and take part in activities, designed to help us improve our skills  for working on our project.

In the morning we participated in short seminars about creating the right first impressions and being aware of using eye contact as well as ‘filler words’. Although it seems obvious to not use filler words and constantly look away when talking to someone, the talks made me more aware of it and also helped us how to prevent it happening altogether. Afterwards, we had a session based around making an app tailored for a specific person and their needs and were encouraged to come up with as many different ideas as we could, as fast as possible.

During the lunch break, we were given a chance to talk to other people brought in to help us and network. I spoke to someone who made VR Headsets and simulations for job training. The company designed simulations for events like space travel or other potentially dangerous tasks that required practice beforehand. I also spoke to some professors from Sheffield University, who had brought some of their robots along with them. We were given the opportunity to code one particular robot, which was designed to look like a cross between a dog and a rabbit. They were a type of social robot and could react to touch and movement like a real animal, using sensors. Another robot they brought was one with a working head, arms and fingers. However, it was all controlled through remotes and a VR headset. This meant it was possible to sit in a chair, sit in the perspective of the robot and tap yourself on the shoulder. It was extremely cool, however it did leave us feeling creeped out for a while!

Then after lunch, we took part in more seminars and workshops, which highlighted some of the speakers’ achievements and journeys. For example, one speaker was only a year or so older than us and he had dropped out of school to run his own ethical hacking company that he founded when he was in Year 9. Finally, after all of the activities we made our way back into the main event area to be given instructions on our applications into the finals. We were instructed to make a presentation explaining our product in further detail and create a video about our reasons for entering the Longitudinal Explorer Prize competition. From there, 30 of the 60 semi-finalists will reach the finals, and they will be given the funds, mentoring and resources to actually create their product.


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