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Meet the Researchers

CAPA (CAPE Postgraduate Research Award) winners describe their projects

Isabella Miele and Oliver Burton – Postgraduate students

Speech-to-braille communicator for deafblind people

Miele and Burton sq

Deafblindness is a combined sight and hearing loss, causing difficulties with communication, access to information and mobility. This unique disability affects an estimated 394,000 people in the UK and varies in degrees of severity. Either or both of the disabilities that form deafblindness can be congenital or acquired in later life. The combined hearing and vision loss significantly affects the life of an individual even if, when taken separately, each single sensory impairment can be relatively mild.

Thanks to CAPE Acorn Postgraduate Research Award 2017, we have developed a proof-of-principle speech-to-braille communicator to give deafblind people the ability to understand spoken words.We have created a novel, cheap and open-source prototype for a refreshable braille cell that is scalable to a full braille keyboard. By combining the new haptic interface with open-source speech-to-text recognition software we created a new assistive technology system. We thank the CAPE Acorn committee for the generous financial support, which has enabled us to work on an extremely interesting project with the potential to improve the very challenging lives of people with deafblindness

Tien-Chun Wu — PhD student in Electrical Engineering

Development of multi-sensor platform for real-time air-quality monitoring

Tien Chun Wu sq

The project involves the establishment of distributed wireless networks consisting of multiple miniaturised MEMS-based sensors to enable remote monitoring of local air quality in real-time. I developed cloud-based analytics algorithm and interface for recognition of pollutants and particle matters components using low-cost sensors that have not only allowed for visualisation of ubiquitous spatial mappings of both metropolitan and indoor air quality index (AQI), but also enabled transmission of timely alerts of detection of toxic and combustible analytes. Furthermore, the multi-sensor array approach I employed has also promoted development of algorithms to compensate for interfering effects for improvement of detection accuracy.

Throughout the course of the Acorn project, the development of expertise involving communications protocol, cloud-based interface, and recognition algorithms has made important contributions towards my PhD research on the topic: mobile- embeddable breath analysis for personal healthcare monitoring, representing a significant step towards internet of things (IoT) realisation of miniaturised ultralow-power inkjet-printed graphene-based CMOS-integrated sensor arrays.

Yin Chang— Postgraduate student, Dept of Chemistry

Biomimetic diamond structured photonic crystals and the inspirations for industry

Yin Chang sq

Pachyrhynchus weevils have photonic crystal structures that are able to display colours from blue to red. Our research found these jewel-like weevils have a single diamond structure lattice with lattice constant of 400-500 nm. The single diamond lattice is an attractive structure for engineering because it has the widest open bandgap for whole crystal orientations. With the CAPA award fund, we characterised the optic spectrum with optic fibres and the nanostructures with SEM and TEM. Different oriented crystal models were constructed and simulated with FDTD. Band diagram of different diamond lattice constants and chitin-air filling fraction were then constructed which provides important information for future optic device designs. Moreover, this study is inspiring for self-assembly mechanisms of large-scale (400-500 nm) single diamond structure, which cannot be achieved by engineering techniques so far.

Acknowledgements: Pachyrhynchus weevils are captive and bred in Taiwan. The researchers thank Dr Hui-Yun Tseng for providing the species and for biology and genetics discussions