Press release

School pupils to design special digital assistants

Published on 18 June 2019

The University of Dundee is challenging the technologists of tomorrow to explore the Artificial Intelligence used by the likes of Alexa and Siri to help people with the most complex disabilities.

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S2 pupils from across the East of Scotland will face off in the University’s annual Strathmore Trophy computing competition on Monday 24 June. Sixteen schools will be represented at this year’s competition.

Pupils will have two hours to design a new digital assistant along the lines of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, but for users who are unable to speak. Researchers at the University have for many years been designing applications for people with complex communication impairments, who have poor or no speech and difficulties in using a conventional keyboard. This was the inspiration for this year’s competition.

Researcher Rolf Black, one of the competition organisers, said “Digital assistants are now very common, and we are exploring the possibility of using the technology to assist people who can’t talk or use a keyboard easily. This will be a good challenge for the pupils.

“These pupils are digital natives so using tech such as this is second nature to them. What we are looking for them to do is to use their knowledge and creativity to come up with ideas to take digital assistants into new areas of application, to make everyday communication more inclusive.”

The Strathmore Trophy competition is held annually by the University’s Computing department to get local school pupils thinking about applications of computer technology to help people. The Trophy was donated by Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore in 1996. The competition is now sponsored by the British Computer Society (BCS).

The schools taking part this year are:

  • Arbroath Academy
  • Arbroath High School
  • Baldragon Academy            
  • Balwearie High School
  • Bathgate Academy
  • Beath High School
  • Brechin High School
  • Carnoustie High School
  • Craigie High School
  • Dollar Academy
  • Dunblane High
  • Grove Academy
  • Lochgelly High School
  • Perth High School
  • St. Pauls RC Academy
  • Stirling High School

Press Office, University of Dundee