Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Cleaning our oceans with AI-powered robot microscopes

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 24 September 2018

image of a variety of plankton seen through IBM's autonomous microscope.
Plankton under IBM 3D microscope

Our oceans are dirty. AI-powered robot microscopes may save them.

In five years, small autonomous AI microscopes, networked in the cloud and deployed around the world, will continually monitor the condition of the natural resource most critical to our survival: water.

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From farms to fridges – engineering and the food supply chain

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 21 September 2018

Image of a harvester collecting grainsAs we discussed in our recent ‘State of engineering‘ article, engineers are innovating across the pipeline to develop accessible, low-cost, and intuitive technologies that help to realise the goal of global food and water security. For engineers, a large part of achieving this goal involves guaranteeing that the technologies and practices developed are sustainable. If not sustainable, then the developments merely provide a temporary patch for the problem, rather than an actual solution. Thankfully, as QEPrize donor company Hitachi writes, ag-tech solutions that optimise food production, improve food distribution, and reduce food consumption are already being implemented.

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Inside China’s Great Firewall

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 17 September 2018

Image of Shanghai

From the outside looking in, China’s internet landscape can look unnecessarily restricted and censored. However, the situation on the inside of the country’s famous firewall may be quite different from how it is often portrayed in the media. In fact, the censorship model is starting to be replicated in other parts of the world, even in areas independent of the influence of Beijing. So, what is the infamous firewall, and why is it spreading?

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The Future of Cryptography

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 14 September 2018

Image depicting the concept of cryptography with bits and symbols arranged circularly. Cryptography, at a fundamental level, is the science of keeping secrets.

As a child, you may have used secret messages or languages to communicate with friends or siblings, and you have likely observed the use of cryptography in various aspects of our society – maintaining the confidentiality of personal, consumer, corporate, and government data. However, on top of this, cryptography’s status as an indispensable building block in digital infrastructure continues to grow with the perpetual increase in online connectivity – securing online transactions, authentication, and access to resources.

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Urban Crop Solutions – sustainability and vertical farms

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 12 September 2018

Image of crops growing indoors under LED lighting

Before you dive into this article too deeply, take a moment to read the following description, and then close your eyes for a second. Imagine yourself standing inside a climate-controlled, high-ceiling warehouse. In front of you stands a tower with eight irrigated levels, on each of which lettuces, herbs, microgreens, and baby greens grow under LED lights. Robotics bring trays with young plants from outside into the right position in the growing tower, while on the other end fully grown crops are taken out, ready to be harvested. Can you see it? You are standing in Urban Crop Solutions’ PlantFactory – an indoor vertical farm – a highly engineered manufacturing plant producing not goods, but crops.

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The state of engineering – food and water security

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 7 September 2018

Image of harvesters in a field with the sun setting behind them

Achieving food and water security is a key priority for people, organisations, and government bodies around the world. However, due to a combination of factors – for example, population growth, climate change, lack of infrastructure, the high cost of maintaining existing infrastructure, or prioritisation from particular governments – achieving food and water security globally is proving to be not only an uncertainty but an increasingly complex problem.

While challenges in food and water security are often associated with developing countries – where poor infrastructure or inhospitable climate conditions limit either access to safe drinking water or agricultural productivity – a lack of resource security is a threat for the developed world as well. Engineers around the world are diligently working to produce innovative, relatively low-cost technologies that improve grey and green infrastructure, create new and efficient processes, and optimise social behaviours. If through these innovations, we can increase supply, reduce the demand on existing systems, and allocate resources differently, then we are a step closer to achieving global food and water security.

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Importance of cybersecurity for medical data

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 31 August 2018

Image of an Apple Watch on a person's wristA consultation with a doctor is widely imagined to be a very private affair; most take place behind a closed door, or a line of curtain. Patient confidentiality has also been considered the responsibility of the doctor since Hippocrates, but now, the ability to share information beyond a single doctor is often essential to provide continued treatment. Whether it is used to ensure a prescription can be picked up from a new location or to access life-saving expertise, this new pooling of patient data also poses an increased risk of loss, theft, or manipulation – making its security paramount. This article explores the interplay between cybersecurity with the healthcare sector, particularly in regards to medical trackers within the Internet of Things (IoT).

“And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets..”

– from the Hippocratic Oath, the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world

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Preserving quality of life with less-invasive particle beam cancer therapy

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 30 August 2018

As we discussed earlier this month in our ‘State of Engineering’ highlight, healthcare engineering is fast becoming a multifaceted, multidisciplinary hub of innovation that encompasses wearable technology and smart equipment through to digital medicines and biopharmaceuticals. Throughout the month we’ve featured innovations such as smart wardrobes and bespoke rehabilitation systems, explored future trends in biomedical engineering, and discussed the interplay between healthcare and cybersecurity. However, additional to the day-to-day improvements to patient Quality of Life (QoL) afforded by these new technologies, another key focus of contemporary medical research lies in investigating new, more effective ways to combat diseases and health conditions, such as cancer. As such, we are turning to look at recent innovations in cancer therapy, examining a development by QEPrize donor company Hitachi that produces excellent results while limiting patient discomfort.

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