If you haven't read previous blog posts about this, we're taking 7 UTC Reading Students through the entire process of fully developing a customer idea and creating a working prototype IoT product to meet all the customer requirements in 4 weeks. Monday 6 August saw the beginning of this brilliant project.
6 Students from UTC Reading (one is on holiday but will join us from next week), all arrived promptly at Innovation Catalyst's amazing facility at the Thames Valley Science Park, looking eager, suited and booted and wanting to know what would be in store for them...
Myself and Steve sat down with the students, Mike from the UTC, Ed and Susan from Innovation Catalyst and introduced ourselves to start. Then some low level ground rules and house keeping items about the working environment were covered and the product idea was given to the students and the clients end goal specified (In this case a working and presentable prototype which would allow the imaginary entrepreneur to gain investment).
That was the moment, like letting off a firework. The energy end enthusiasm was like a tidal wave, so without wasting any of that energy we got everyone set up on the local WiFi and got into a meeting room to thrash out some initial thoughts on the project as we would in an initial consultation with a client. We looked at various technologies and techniques for achieving the client goals (I'm playing the customer, by the way).
Steve explained that they need to investigate each feasible option, investigate risks and performance factors and decide on the best so the group split into 3 teams of two and each investigated one one the technologies we'd discussed in the initial consultation. Namely, Bluetooth LE, RFID and NFC. We'd set the component budget for the prototype at £150 so they had some balancing to do.
They got stuck straight into the research which resulted in some genuine surprises and some good component finds and we settled on RFID which Steve explained had surprised him. He'd gone into the exercise expecting Bluetooth LE to come out on top. Steve explained to the team that this is why we do this investigation. If you're interested, there's a simple breakdown of the process we follow on our home page.
An absolutely fantastic start to this project. Steve and I left together and talked about how incredibly positive and enjoyable the day had been. We'll be leaving the team to work independently with tasks set and with any amount of help from the entire team at Think Engineer who are all tapped-in using Slack.
We plan to be back in to work with them again on Thursday.