Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Innovations

Artificial Intelligence speeds up Pixar’s movie-making

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 14 July 2017

Have you ever settled yourself down in front of an animated movie and marvelled at how the 3D figures are brought to life?

From Sulley’s wind-ruffled fur as he strides across the ‘Monsters’ University’ campus to the heart-wrenching fade-out of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong, in ‘Inside Out’, it’s the play of light across these 3D scenes that brings the characters so vividly to life. Each moment is painstakingly animated, textured and rendered to give a carefully crafted illusion of reality.

In these more recent productions, a technique called ‘ray tracing’ maps out each ray of light in a scene, giving rise to the shadows, reflections and 3D appearance of characters. Even with the help of vast banks of powerful computers, the rendering process takes hundreds of thousands of computing hours, and films can take years to finish.

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Insect inspired: nanopillars help orthopaedic implants resist infection

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 10 July 2017

Inspired by insect wings that kill bacteria on contact, Indian researchers have developed a method to treat the surface of titanium orthopaedic implants at nano-scales so that they resist bacterial infection — a complication that often develops following surgery.

Orthopaedic implants like hip joints, knee joints, plates and screws can be treated to resist bacteria without the use of antibiotics, says a paper published online in Scientific Reports (23 January).

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Fresh Check: The smart solution to food spoilage

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 7 July 2017

People around the world throw away more than 1.3 billion tonnes of out-of-date food each year. At Fresh Check, we’re guilty of wasting both food and money by throwing away food that is past its use-by date. In fact, almost everyone we’ve spoken to has walked the fine line between saving money and food poisoning a few times, or at least had an argument about it with their families, friends or flatmates! The same is certainly true for us, and it was from this frustration that Fresh Check was born.

Our simple technology started as a smart solution to detect food spoilage which centred on visualising harmful bacterial contamination with a blue to orange colour change. The material remains blue in safe settings and turns orange in areas that might cause harm. Since developing the initial technology our product and business model have grown and changed, but we’ve always stuck to the detection of poor hygiene. Now we look not only at food packaging, but have developed a blue to orange colour-changing spray for use in restaurants, hospitals, food producing plants and at home, to warn users of any health risks.

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Nanofilter: A move to impact millions of lives

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 4 July 2017

I invented a low-cost water filter called Nanofilter®, which cleans contaminated water in order to make it drinkable. Right now, about 12,000 people use the filter every day and the plan is to impact millions of lives.

Growing up, my community in Tanzania didn’t have clean drinking water, and I will never forget how horrible that was. As a child, I would get worms because the water I drank was so dirty, and I wished someone would make it easy for us to access clean water. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and help solve the problem facing my community: I did a PhD in Chemical Engineering and invented the Nanofilter®.

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Rishi Vegad: Refining the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 12 June 2017

Rishi Vegad is an engineering student and an amputee wearing the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb. Linx, from Blatchford, a leading supplier of prosthetic devices, is the world’s first fully integrated limb system.  It was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious MacRobert Award in 2016 and Rishi has played a unique role in helping to develop and test it.

Rishi, tell us a little bit about yourself…

I am currently studying mechanical engineering at Kingston University and will graduate next year. I haven’t yet decided which field to specialise in after I graduate, but at the moment, I think I would like to work in the design and manufacture of prosthetics, or alternatively use my mechanical background to focus more on aerospace engineering.

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Open Sesame – Not just a child’s tale

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 8 June 2017

“Hello, I can’t move my hands or legs, could you make me a smartphone I could use?” This was the phone call I received around 5 years ago, that has completely changed my life.

My name is Oded Ben Dov and I used to write apps and games for smartphones. After appearing on TV with a game we developed that was controlled by head gestures, I got the phone call above from Giora Livne. Giora, a released Lieutenant Colonel from the Israeli Navy, became paralyzed 10 years ago after falling off a ladder and hitting his spine.

I had no former acquaintance with disabilities before Giora called, but once he presented the problem so concisely – “can you make me a smartphone I could use?” – I knew I found a calling beyond just games. It was a chance to put my skills and knowhow towards serving a much deserving population. It also presented a strong case for the use of gesture technology, which until today has been lacking in other fields.

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Unlocking the secret to avian flight could inform engineering advances

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 27 April 2017

Hidden away in the Lentink lab at Stanford University, a dedicated team of engineers – and a parrotlet named Gary – have been uncovering the secrets of avian flight. With a brand new method to record how a bird’s wing changes shape in flight, the team hopes to better understand the forces that keep them in the air.

These forces are never more challenged than inside city limits. As space to grow outwards is limited, our cities grow ever taller, bringing with them a ‘skyscraper wind’ effect. When wind collides with the side of a tall building it is directed towards the ground, creating downdraughts and gusty conditions at street level. Clusters of skyscrapers add to the effect, squeezing wind through narrow corridors.

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Gamifying learning in the digital classroom

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 21 April 2017

Virtual reality and adaptive learning could soon become essential additions to the modern teachers’ toolkit. With games becoming more realistic than ever before, Greenwich University’s senior lecturer in disruptive technologies saw the perfect opportunity for innovation.

Dr Ioannis Paraskevopolous has been awarded a £30,000 industrial fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering and has teamed up with leading science and engineering company, Qinetiq, to bring his interactive learning experience to life. The Collective Innovative Training Environment, or xCITE as he calls it, is the digital classroom of the future.

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