Given the challenge by Vodafone to come up with an original and innovative idea based on one of the three given stimuli and then to develop this into a new mobile phone related product or service. Our given options were:
• If you could make your phone do something magical, what would it do? How would it work? Keep within the realms of probability, although the technology may not exist yet.
• What could you measure and gamify to make people’s lives better?
• How could technology help in disaster zones?
We had a few ideas knocked about over Facebook between the two of us, but ultimately we settled at looking at how technology could be used to help in disaster zones. With Jo at work, and myself the less technologically aware of the two the first five hours involved not only a great deal of research into what was already in use in this field, relating to the autonomous device that Jo had initially proposed we used, but also a great deal of education on what an autonomous device is and how viable it would be in implementing it.
From the research that I conducted, one particular disaster came up a lot: Fukushima. The nuclear power disaster that unfolded in the wake of the tsunami that hit the North East coast of Japan in 2011, that was actually trying to use robotics in order to assess the radiation levels and levels of damage, but unfortunately even their most recent efforts in November 2013 were constrained by poor technology.
So, returning to our autonomous device, we decided to call it a DRAD – that is Disaster Relief Autonomous Device – and the best part of it is not just the name, it is the fact that with the combination of existing technology it could actually be put into use.
So what is the DRAD and what does it do?
Well the DRAD combines existing probe technology that has already been used in disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima with ongoing research, such as that funded by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), that is currently looking at creating an intelligent, autonomous robot that has the use of fine motor skills, something that has already been outline as a limitation within current technology. In the past month, a Japanese company has come up with a fabric called β38 that shields beta radiation, which we proposed that when combined with lead (which absorbs/ shields gamma radiation) would provide a great material that could work as a shell to protect the electronics from the various kinds of radiation damage it would be subject to.
Simply put, it is an autonomous device that would solve many of the problems relating to the limitations of the technologies already in use. What it does exactly is included in our 14 page report and Prezi that will be linked to at the end of this blog.
I think that it is incredible that in less than 24 hours we were able to come up with something that is not only innovative, but useful and viable. Perhaps more incredible is the fact that we had an almost finished project before 1am, just 13 hours into the challenge. All that was left to do this morning was cast fresh eyes over our work, change a minor error and write this blog post. Which is pretty good going, if anything I think we should reward ourselves with Black Forest Hot Chocolates and a Goat’s cheese Panini.