Princess Anne unveils new UU innovation hub

Trailblazing research into the next wave of human-computer interaction is being pioneered in Derry.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 8:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:14 am
Professor Damien Coyle with Princess Anne at the official opening of the new SCANi-hub at UU Magee.

The radical study is taking place at the new state-of-the-art Spatial Computing and Neurotechnology Innovation Hub (SCANi-hub) located at Ulster University’s Magee campus.

The new hub is using cutting edge technology to interface or join our bodies directly with technology.

Researchers aim to determine the body and brain’s responses to stress, fatigue, achievement, awareness error and threats via complex training and performance scenarios simulated in virtual environments.

Established by Professor Damien Coyle and Dr Karl McCreadie at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre, the new SCANi-hub will also build on award-winning neurotechnology research at the centre enabling research and education in the next wave of human-computer and human-machine interaction for able-bodied and physically impaired people.

The SCANi-hub - which includes an advanced car/flight simulator and various new Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) spatial computing technologies - was officially opened on Friday last by Princess Anne.

Other technologies include those that enable walking in virtual environments (virtual treadmills) as well as a ‘Smartglass’ facade to the room for various experimental situations and public engagement activities.

During her tour of the Magee campus, the Princess Royal met with staff and students including Professor Louise Dubras, Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine, who outlined how the proposed Graduate Entry Medical School at Magee will provide medical training to help address the skills and workforce challenges felt by the health care sector in NI.

The royal visitor also commended nursing students and recent graduates for their work in local communities. Her tour concluded with a visit to the £1.3 million Magee library transformation.

Professor Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor, was among those to welcome the Princess Royal to UU Magee.

He said: “Building on our world class infrastructure and pioneering scientific research at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre, the SCANi-hub will equip the next generation of graduates and researchers with the skills and knowledge to merge bio-inspired computing and AI and SCAN technologies to address many research and industry led challenges that help define how humans interact with technology in the future.”