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Microsoft - Making Data Useful


Microsoft Research chose to work with Northumbria University in 2013 to represent the United Kingdom at ‘Design Expo 2013’, which showcases design talent from around the world. Interactive Media Design students teamed up with some of their peers for the product design programmes to create responses to the challenge of Making Data Useful: Improving your life, community, and world.

The Challenge

Increasingly we live in a world alive with sensors and data. The big data, sensor networks and transparency movements have left us with a supply-side glut of potential useful free data that is lying fallow. How can we use this to improve life, local community and the world at large?

Working with Microsoft

Dr. Tim Regan and Richard Banks from Microsoft came up from Microsoft Research in Cambridge to brief our students and run a ‘Gadgeteer’ workshop that introduced them to this rapid prototyping kit for small electronic devices. After this briefing day, the students were divided into 6 competing teams to see who would end up representing Northumbria University and the UK at Design Expo in Redmond, Washington State, USA. Tim and Richard attended regular interim presentations until a final choice was made.

The Results

6 imaginative prototypes were made showcasing the teams’ blend of digital interaction and three-dimensional skills from physical dials that limited your amount of email to a wax model of Boeing Dreamliner that melted in response to tweets about its grounding due to battery failure!

The eventual winner was Luke Emmerson and Leah Xandora’s ‘In Living Memory’ Project, which explored leaving a digital legacy in physical products by their designers e.g. someone being able to use their smart phone to scan a digital tag on a piece of furniture to access a video on how it was made.

In Living Memory by Luke Emmerson and Leah Xandora from Northumbria University on Vimeo.

Luke and Leah were flown over to the USA – all expenses paid – in the summer of 2013 to present their project at Microsoft Expo – a great way to round off their education with us!

To see more of Luke’s work visit:

Course info

UCAS Code W280

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Location Squires Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Fee Information

Module Information

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