New research to boost digital revolution and keep people safe online

The University of Nottingham is one of six research centres across the UK that will deliver ground-breaking research to allow people across the country to grasp the possibilities of the digital revolution, while addressing key challenges to their online safety and privacy.

The projects announced today are part of a £29 million investment by UK Research and Innovation, include using immersive technology to boost health and education and exploring how technologies such as the Internet of Things can be used to allow people to adapt their personal spaces and improve their wellbeing.

The University of Nottingham has received £4.1m from UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Digital Economy Theme towards continued funding of the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, originally founded in 2009.

Horizon will explore how challenges such as trust regarding the use of personal data can be addressed in the development of new technologies and products that blend physical and digital elements, for example community casting of virtual music festivals, personalised digital mental health interventions, and data-driven consumer goods.

The blending of the digital and physical in our future products will impact all aspects of our lives. It is important that we understand how such products can benefit society and industry by becoming more personalised and adaptive while ensuring they are trusted by consumers. We will work across disciplines and sectors, and take a user centred approach to make sure that the design, regulation, and operation of future products meet societal needs.

The centres will take forward inter and multidisciplinary applied digital economy research to “the next stage”, ultimately easing the pathway to better commercialisation. The EPSRC contribution of £22 million has leveraged more than £29.5 million of partner contributions from industry and the universities involved.

The other new centres include:

  • CAMERA 2.0, led by the University of Bath, will pioneer intelligent visual and interactive technology using 3D cameras and artificial intelligence that will allow us to capture and understand our world in new ways, and use this data to create ‘new worlds’ not just for the creative sector but also to allow individuals’ to enhance their health and partake in education or training. Examples could include transferring motor skills learnt in virtual environments to tennis and other
  • The Centre for Digital Citizens (CDC) led by Newcastle and Northumbria Universities will design and evaluation new technologies and services that support ‘smart’, ‘data-rich’ living in different communities, exploring how data sharing can enhance understanding of public health and wellbeing, community engagement and technology-enhanced lifelong learning.
  • The Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy (DECaDE) led by the University of Surrey will explore how the platforms that underpin our digital economy could transformed into a decentralised model by emerging data-centric technologies like AI and Blockchain, to be further democratized so they can be further innovated by individuals across society.
  • The Future Places Centre led by Lancaster University will explore how ubiquitous and pervasive technologies such as the Internet of Things and new data science tools can allow individuals to design and adapt the places they live, work and spend time in, for instance seeing how these technologies can shape healthy, sustainable living through the creation of appropriate places.

EPSRC Executive Chair, Dame Professor Lynn Gladden, said: “New and emerging digital technologies will have a profound impact on many aspects of our lives, from our health and wellbeing to our work and leisure time.

“The investment announced today will not only support new ways of capitalizing on this opportunity but will also help to ensure that those using these new technologies are safe while doing so.”

Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Amanda Solloway said: “We rely on technology for so many things in our lives – from paying our bills and buying our weekly food shop to tackling climate change and finding new treatments for diseases. We must continue investing so we can keep pushing the boundaries of technological developments that improve our daily lives and transform industries.

“The six new research centres announced today will support our ambitious scientists and researchers to develop incredible innovations such as strengthening our online safety and delivering virtual education and healthcare, helping to cement the UK as a science superpower.”

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