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(L-R) Michael Waite, Sabina Jedrzejczyk and Eileen Young

Heriot-Watt University's ‘Team Posturific' Students Enter Cisco Switch Up Challenge

American multinational technology conglomerate, Cisco, have challenged students from the UK and Ireland to come up with ‘a brilliant idea to change the world with the Internet of Things' by taking part in their Switch Up Challenge. Cisco said ‘the next wave of technological innovation will come from the connection of people, process, data, and things to the internet: the Internet of Things and we want to stimulate innovation and give university students the chance to showcase their talent. We are looking for teams of three to five students to submit their innovative ideas and plans for how to use the Internet of Things to solve environmental or social issues'.

The School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University is delighted to announce that Year 1 Computer Science students Michael Waite (BSc Information Systems), Sabina Jedrzejczyk (MEng Software Engineering) and Eileen Young (BSc Computer Systems), or ‘Team Posturific' as they are also known, entered the competition earlier this month.

Eileen explains the concept of Posturific:

‘In today's culture we find ourselves sitting more and more in both our work and play based environments but this is presenting new challenges to our health; namely problems with back pain, neck pain and increasing discomfort that all lead to higher stress levels and a decrease in morale and productivity. ‘The concept of Posturific is relatively simple. It's a padded office chair overlay device that provides not only physical support but active monitoring of your posture, sitting position and habits.

The overlay device is designed to attach to any standard office chair and through the integrated technology you can review the activity via a personal online web portal, a mobile application or anything in between thanks to the Internet of Things device. One of the best parts is that the product is also designed to interface with an existing corporate IT system. This can be used to boost physical presence detection, hot desking, flexibility and IT communication productivity'.

Shortlisting for the UK and Ireland final, which will take place in London on 9 February, began two weeks ago and Team Posturific were thrilled to be selected to move on to the next step in the process, a live Webex virtual interview with Cisco to discuss their submission. The goal was to reach the final where teams will be asked to present their idea and project plan to a panel of judges and where entries will be judged on the following criteria: the innovative nature of the project, its environmental or social impact and the feasibility and economic viability of the project.

After anxiously awaiting news of whether or not their submission had made it to the final, on 30 January Team Posturific were told that their bid was not being taken through to the next round. However, the news has not dampened their ambition:

‘'We all really enjoyed the process. Admittedly, not making it to the final was a pretty hard blow for the three of us as we felt the submission was strong and that the phone interview was a great success. The countless hours of hard work put into it over the holidays was challenging but ultimately worth it. None the less we are licking our wounds and already moving onto future things with a really fun side project already in discussion (literally looking upwards with a stratosphere balloon capsule, because why not!) Overall we all had a great laugh, learned a multitude of new skills and grew close as friends through it all. Hopefully we can encourage future first year students to take on projects like this” – Michael Waite

Dr Tessa Berg from the Department of Computer Science thought the team's proposal was ‘outstanding' and told the team to be ‘immensely proud' of themselves. ‘To craft a concept, create a product, collaborate successfully and produce within a set timeframe is incredibly difficult and fraught with challenges. I think what they achieved is exceptional and I look forward to hearing about their next adventure'.

You can watch Team Posturific's Cisco Switch Up Challenge video submission on You Tube