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  • Run by Nesta and supported by IBM, the prize seeks to inspire innovation by challenging school students to use technology to tackle a contemporary challenge.

Pupils from Southlands School, Lymington, have won a £10,000 prize for a prototype that helps people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder communicate. The badge, worn on the wrist, 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.

Run and funded by innovation foundation Nesta, the Longitude Explorer Prize 2017 set out to challenge school pupils to use the Internet of Things (IoT) - devices connected via the internet - to tackle a health issue.

More than 60 teams entered the prize and since April, ten finalists have worked with mentors from IBM and Digital Catapult to build prototypes that tackle everything from air pollution to childhood obesity and mental health. Schools received access to software from IBM and bespoke support with IoT connectivity and hardware from Digital Catapult to develop their ideas.

Southlands School is a specialist Asperger’s and complex needs school. The team of pupils wanted to create a device that would support their peers in communicating more effectively. The IoT software application and sensor/display system detects and flags the presence of stress and anxiety in the user. It then uses biometric and geolocation sensor information combined with big data analysis to track, record and analyse patterns in the user's daily life to relay how they are feeling to pupils themselves and teaching staff.

A pupil from Southlands School in the winning team, says: “People with Asperger Syndrome have difficulty communicating their emotions to others around them. They find it hard to recognise how they are feeling and why they are feeling a certain way. Our device can allow solutions to be put in place to enable them to manage this on a daily basis. We learnt a lot about the whole process of creating a tech product, from designing and selling to marketing. We’d really like to continue developing the product.”

Tris Dyson at Nesta and on behalf of the Longitude Explorer Prize, says: “Working together to tackle the problems being faced by society is an increasingly important skill to teach young people to prepare them for the future. Young people have boundless creativity and we want them to realise they can take an active role in imagining how technology can be used to innovate and shape the future.”

The ten finalists were judged by an expert panel on a range of criteria that included innovation, data use and real world application. The judging panel included Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer for IBM UK and Ireland , Caroline Gorski, Head of IoT and Digital Manufacturing at Digital Catapult, and Jonny Vroom, Innovation Lead – IoT & Distributed Ledger at Innovate UK.

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, Digital Catapult’s Things Connected Network - enabling teams to develop exciting and novel IoT products and services, and MultiTech GWs & SODAQ board - hardware to collect data with bespoke technical support from Digital Catapult.

The first Longitude Explorer Prize was launched by Nesta in 2014 and focused on geolocation.

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For more information contact Juliet Grant in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2668 or 07866 949047,  [email protected]

About Longitude Explorer Prize: The prize is in the spirit of the 18th century Longitude Prize, which set the task of determining a ship’s exact location at sea. Since their first appearance, Longitude challenges have set out to involve a broad spectrum of creative thinkers, in the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere.

The first Longitude Explorer Prize was launched by Nesta in 2014 and focused on geolocation. The competition was won by an all-girl team from Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire who took home the first prize for their app, Displaced, designed to help charities coordinate the logistics of supporting vulnerable people around the world.

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation.  We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills.  We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities.  We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment.  To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

About IBM: For more information, visit https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/

Quote Sheet:

Harriet Green General Manager Internet of Things, Customer Engagement and Education at IBM says, “I'm thrilled to see the results of the finals of the Longitude Explorer Challenge Prize. We collaborated with Nesta on this competition because we are committed to helping nurture the talent of today's young people, who will become the developers, innovators and consumers of these very technologies in the future. The tech sector is at the heart of innovation and the wealth of creativity demonstrated by the finalists in this competition is exemplary. I congratulate every single participant on bringing a strong blend of creativity and innovation together and to the finalists and the winning team ‘Octopix from Southland School.”

Guy Strath, teacher from Southlands School says, “The Longitude Explorer Prize was a great opportunity for students to stretch themselves outside of the standard classroom environment. It helped them to develop coping mechanisms and an awareness that sometimes things go wrong, but you can use those experiences to help you innovate.”

Peter Karney, Head of Product Innovation at Digital Catapult says, “It was a privilege to work with all ten finalist schools supporting their access to Internet of Things technologies. Their spirit of exploration, experimentation and entrepreneurship in the context of how IoT can address real social problems of health and well-being was an inspiring glimpse into potential of young technologists and engineers for the UK.”