The Longitude Explorer Prize is a scheme run by innovation foundation, Nesta and supported by technology company, IBM. The scheme has been set-up to challenge young people to come up with ideas that use the Internet of Things (IoT), devices connected via the internet to improve the well-being and health issues of people in the UK.
The competition is open to all schools and two hundred young people from around the UK submitted over 60 ideas. Ten finalists were then selected to build prototypes of their ideas and write a business strategy for bringing their product to market.
Finalists were given access to resources including IBM Watson and IBM BlueMix – artificial data programmes enabling young people to create working prototypes of their apps. A small team of 3 from Southlands School came together and put forward a submission for the competition.
They created ‘Octoptix’, a wearable prototype that helps people on the autistic spectrum to communicate better and convey their emotions, whilst improving their ability to read others’ emotions. Also, it changes colour to reflect the emotions of its owner based on a number of sensors that measure stress, heart rate, and speech and tone emotion.
The LEP awards ceremony took place on the 13 July 2017 and the staff and young people were all smiles as they attended the event. IBM even treated everybody to a behind-the-scenes tour of Wimbledon in the run up to the final, which they all thoroughly enjoyed as the tournament was on at the time!
There was a panel of esteemed judges and all ten finalists pitched their ideas. The judges then selected the winner based on a prize criteria that included innovation, data use and real world application. Everybody was extremely impressed by the quality of all the prototypes and the team presentations, it was clear that all the finalists had worked very hard and were passionate about their projects. The ceremony ended on a high as Southlands School were declared the winners and won the prize of £10,000!
With the prize money and the support the school has received from Nesta and IBM, the future for the device looks bright. IBM are looking at the potential launch of 'Octoptix' nationally, however this is still yet to be confirmed. Fingers crossed!
Well done to the 'Octoptix' team at Southlands School on your win and we cannot wait to hear more updates!