Past Projects

Autumn Semester 2012-13 iSolve Projects

1) Single Telomere Length Analysis (STELA) & Cancer Prognosis

The research team has developed and optimised a highly sensitive (PCR based) test for analysing DNA samples and determining the lengths of telomeres. These protective sequences prevent ‘fusion events’ between neighbouring telomeres and are implicated in disease – specifically cancer whereby genomic instability is a major driver. Cardiff University does not have registered IPR on this technique, however, there is considerable knowhow involved in working the technology.

A further invention has been made in respect of this underlying technology via the identification of a highly specific threshold for detecting short/dysfunctional telomeres which correlates strongly with prognosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL). This disease is most common in males over the age of 50. It is estimated that there are over 20,000 new cases of CLL diagnosed in the USA per annum with a similar number in Europe. Given average survival of 12 years then there are around a quarter of a million CLL patients within the USA. Critical telomeric parameters have been identified that can be used to define CLL patients that will, or will not, require treatment; these same parameters are also highly predictive for progression-free survival and overall survival. Crucially, the data provides vastly superior prognostic power than currently used prognostics.

The iSolve team are asked to investigate the commercial potential for this technology, identify short and long term target markets and investigate suitable business models for exploitation.

2) An Intelligent System for Assisting Care Delivery for the Elderly in Their Own Homes

The potential exists to adapt an existing project which advises decision making for buildings to a safety monitoring provision for elderly persons in their own homes. The requirement comes about due to an estimation that 33% of the British population will be over 60 years of age in 20 years time, the higher occurrence of chronic disease in the elderly that can lead to difficulty in mobility and lower general ease of daily living, along with the associated cost of provisioning a safe environment for that population. The adapted system addresses an identified gap in assisting living research with the delivery of an (automatic) semantic driven safety monitoring and alert generation system for elderly and disabled persons living in their own homes. Specifically the goal is to uphold safety in the home by automatically alerting care providers of unsafe, potentially unsafe or emergency situations in an unobtrusive and highly cost effective way.

The purpose of the new model is to provide a framework to learn the daily living behaviour of inhabitants and then to identify potential deviations from normal behaviour that may be useful from a clinical perspective. The system can then alert in near real-time of critical incidents e.g. a fall and potentially dangerous behavioural situations.

The iSolve team will be required to explore the commercial potential for such a system and the best business model to develop and sell this technology including the identification of collaborating organisations to market the product.

3) Stabilising Video Cameras in Smart Phones

More and more people are filming on their mobile phones, whether it be family holidays, music videos, short films or live events, and people need help getting smooth shots. The camera technology in the phone may be HD, but what’s the point in having picture clarity if there’s so much camera shake you can’t make out what’s going on? Anyone who’s watched mobile phone footage of a concert or football match on YouTube can attest to this.

Tripods and the like are readily available, but if you want to move around while you film then there’s very little in the way of affordable technology.  We believe the market is open for a Steadicam that would fit onto a smart phone and we would like the iSolve team to test whether this is the case.

We are considering the development of a hand-held, pocket sized Steadicam that would be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer and which could retail for under £50. A Steadicam operates through the use of a gimbal that allows the camera to ‘float’, and through weights that are then applied to give the camera stability. We would also like to know whether detachable weights would be a commercially viable off-shoot. These 5cm weights would be in appealing designs (think band logos, football and rugby club badges, cartoon character heads etc.) and would effectively personalise the Steadicam.

The team will be required to investigate the potential market for a smart phone Steadicam and identify the most appropriate business model to exploit the technology.

4) The Imitation Game (IMGAME/Masquerade)

In 1950, the famous computer pioneer, Alan Turing, proposed what became widely known as the ‘Turing Test’ which involved testing a hidden machine’s ‘intelligence’ by comparing its written responses to those of a hidden human.  IMGAME adapts this idea for testing humans from one social group who are asked to pretend to belong to another (e.g. men are asked to pretend to be women, or the members of the majority group of a population are asked to pretend to be an ethnic minority). Each ‘game’ features three participants; a non-pretender, a pretender and the judge. The judge is required to devise questions which will enable them to differentiate between the other two players based on their group — to identify which one is genuine and which one is pretending.  The judge must make a final guess and apply a confidence level to how sure they are (1-4).

The primary object of IMGAME is to use the game to measure how well certain groups in a population are understood by the mainstream population.  Many games are played and the summary statistic, known as the ‘identification ratio’ (IR), is a measure of the extend to which the mainstream understand the target group.  The object is to establish the method as a long-term monitoring system for social changes over time and space, and to establish it as a new research tool for the social sciences.

A secondary commercial application is under development aimed at making this technology accessible as a popular game ‘Masquerade’.  We imagine it being played as an alternative ‘pub game’ or something like that and it could even be played between teams in different pubs.  The research team have strong indication of the game’s potential success in leisure use from watching how players enjoy the game.

The role of the iSolve team will be to evaluate all potential avenues to develop the game into a usable format and identify the most applicable routes to distribute and market the game for maximum effect.