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‘Imagination, intuition and innovation cubed’ – a computing showcase

Computing students from Reading College displayed their projects at a showcase event last week. Visitors were invited to come and see the projects in action, as well as having the chance to try out some of the gadgets.

The students, who are studying for the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Computing and Systems Development have worked on projects such as a smart mirror, an affordable music system, a pet supplies app, a fitness and nutrition app and have programmed Lego Mindstorm robots to undertake various tasks as well as programming two NAO robots to dance to music.


Richard Szulc developed a smart mirror after undertaking some research where he discovered that 66% of people use their phone within ten minutes of waking up. He thought if you had a mirror which could tell you the time and potentially have emails, a newsfeed and the weather incorporated in it, perhaps it would detach people from their phones.

Richard said he enjoyed the project and preferred it to a more theoretical assessment: “This is much more of a fun way to learn and apply your knowledge. I used Java programming and a Raspbery Pi at the back of the mirror. I came across quite a few problems with internet data and security which I had to overcome but am pleased with the end result. I want to develop the idea further now.”

Joshua Durling developed a ‘smart ring’ using Near Field Communication (NFC). The ring could hold medical records of the person it belongs to, which could be revealed to the emergency services if they were with the person and needed to know their medical history.

John Batchelor created AmpliPi, an affordable music system. John said: “Apart from programming, music is my other passion and I was keen to see if I could develop a better and cheaper alternative to what is currently on the market for playing music wirelessly.

I used a Rasberry Pi and a Blutooth receiver. It was challenging as networking isn’t my area and I had to learn what I could and couldn’t do, particularly with Blutooth as it uses different protocols. The user interface with Java was also new to me.”

John is progressing on to Cardiff Metropolitan University in the Autumn to do a Top–up year to achieve a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science.


Visitors to the showcase included Tamsyn Attiwell, Vice President, Global Services EMEA at Zuora who said: “I was impressed with the different concepts that the students had brought to their projects within the remit and it was prevalent to hear of their challenges, lessons learned and the fact that a lot of trial and error is needed in making the robotics work.

We say in business that you should “fail quickly”, then learn and move on from the failures - I believe the students had definitely experienced that concept.”

Another visitor, Lara Hellman, Product Owner, Ivanti said: “I enjoyed seeing all of the projects and hearing about how they enthused the students to investigate the various fields further.”

The visitors were also entertained by two NAO robots which the students had programmed to dance to Thriller by Michael Jackson, Gangnam Style and the Rocky theme tune. They used Python, C++ and Java to programme them and explained to the visitors how much work it took to get the movements right so that they didn’t overbalance and fall over.

Sanjay C. Shah, HE Programme Co-ordinator said: “Life is going to become increasingly reliant on technology in the future. Every household will have an array of gadgets which will need to be programmed.

This means there will be a need for people with embedded programming skills. We are training our students up to be imaginative, intuitive and innovative so that they are ahead of the curve and leading the way.”

Find out more about the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Computing and Systems Development.