The European Commission has awarded a major Co-Fund grant to the ASSISTID Project of the Doctrid Research Institute, run by the charity Respect (chaired by Mr Dermot Desmond). Professor Brian Harvey of the RCSI is Research Director for Doctrid and the Coordinator of the all-Ireland ASSISTID Project, which includes all 7 Irish Universities, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster in the partnership.

Professor Lizbeth Goodman of UCD’s SMARTlab and Inclusive Design Research Centre of Ireland @ UCD will chair the Academic Advisory Committee of the five year ASSISTID project, and SMARTlab will lead on the technical and online workpackages to support the recruitment, selection and project management of 40 fully funded Post-Docs, and will collaborate with the Programme Board on promotions, communications and online networking of the project researchers and wider communities. ASSISTID supports a five year programme of fellowships and research projects and training programmes exploring innovations in the use of assistive technologies by and for people with intellectual disabilities (with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders).

The first Call for the first set of 20 Post-Docs will soon be announced; of those, 16 will be incoming to the partner universities in Ireland, and 4 will be outgoing to the USA and Canadian partner sites. In addition to Professor Harvey and Professor Goodman, the core ASSISTID project team includes national and international researchers and stakeholders including Professor Michael Leahy of Michigan State University, Dr Geraldine Leader of the University of Galway (Clinical Lead for ASSISTID), Mr Liam Walsh of Respect, and Dr Lynnae Routledge of the US National Council on Disability. UCD is also represented on the ASSISTID founding project team by Dr Mick Donegan, SMARTlab Adjunct Senior Researcher, and Mr Huw Williams, SMARTlab CTO, along with Dr Suzanne Guerin of the CHS Centre for Disability Studies, all of whom sit on the Advisory Panel for the Project. Professor Karola Dillenburger of QUB and Professor Mickey Keenan of Ulster University (and Adjunct at UCD) represent the North in this all-Ireland consortium. 48 UCD faculty members from across the colleges are members of the IDRC, and will provide mentorship to fellows as appropriate.

The total project funding in addition to the EC contribution includes Michigan State University’s generous donation to establish the prestigious international Hegarty Fellowships, in honour of the late Sister Martha Hegarty, along with match funds from Respect, and a further match of 1,500,000 in software from the IDRC’s main partner site in Canada: the IDRC at OCADU (Toronto), directed by Professor Jutta Treviranus. The total project funding, and the outputs of related SMARTlab and IDRC projects at UCD including the Leonardo Accessible E-Learning Project, further support this effort towards new CTI solutions to enable development and testing of a co-designed and fully interoperable and accessible online learning environment using open source tools to create personalisable mobile learning platforms suited to the needs of all the world’s learners.

By funding and supporting 40 Post-Doc projects in the domain of Inclusive Design, this innovative project seeks to make a major intervention into the public’s understanding of the real and varied social contributions to be made by People with Intellectual Disabilities, and to foster new innovations in the assistive technology sector as applied to the field of inclusive learning. UCD-SMARTlab’s expertise to be contributed to the overall intellectual output of the project includes: Creative Technology Innovation; Learning Tools for Intellectual Disability; Assistive Technologies; Personalised Learning Environments; Mobile and Virtual World Technologies; Personalised Learning; Interactive Tools for Autism; Digital Media Advocacy and Training; Creative and Artistic Expression: Social Interactions Using Art; Animations for Inclusive Learning; Design for Diversity.

IDRC@UCD colleagues will contribute from across the Colleges to offer additional expertise in domains such as Social Entrepreneurship Solutions for Widening Participation; and Human Rights Studies as Pertaining to People with Intellectual Disabilities. SMARTlab and IDRC researchers will collaborate with colleagues across all the UCD Colleges to provide a fully interdisciplinary and flexible research environment suited to the needs of the Post-Doc Researchers and PhD students to be recruited to work in this exciting domain.

For further background also see:

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In November 2011, Dr Mick Donegan visited Daniel to set up a gaze-controlled remote control for the television in his room at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Using a remote is a daily practice that most of us take for granted, but for those with limited physical movement, changing a channel can simply be impossible. This video demonstrates how eye-gaze technology can be applied to everyday functionalities. (more…)

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New SMARTlab student Pierre Jolivet, who has joined SMARTlab to explore Brainwave & Sensorial Perception, has produced his latest compositional contribution under the moniker of ‘Pacific 231’ for a limited edition book and CD entitled Coupling.

Coupling is a compilation of work from 26 artists that celebrates the life and work of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. Silent Media has released a limited edition run of 500 books and CDs containing a collection of sound, word and image compositions by various artists, comprising video stills, photography, oil and mixed-media images. The CD and booklet are housed in a letterpressed 14pt. card stock envelope currently breathing life into the gears and pistons at Starbage Hands Press. (more…)

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Older people are often marginalised by technology. Younger people are not. Active Energy is a project developed by SPACE which uses imagination, digital technology, engineering and the spirit of invention to bridge rather than divide a group of older men and younger boys.

Read an article on Active Energy, Unique collaboration brings alternative energy to local community here

Students at Bow Boys Secondary School worked alongside a group of East London senior men, The Geezer Club, with support from an artist, engineer and ex-rocket scientist, to create designs for wind and water turbines. Small scale working prototypes were developed under expert guidance through a series of workshops. The most successful design was chosen to power a temporary public artwork aimed at drawing attention to potential applications of renewable energy sources. ‘Geezer Power’, a wind powered light installation, was exhibited on the roof of Age Concern in Tower Hamlets for three weeks and will tour Tower Hamlets, going next to Bow Boys Secondary School.

The Geezers are currently developing ideas they have for a water turbine that will drive another temporary lightwork, harnessing the tidal power of the Thames and using facilities at University of East London’s MAGICbox.

In addition to its technological and artistic outputs, the Active Energy project takes an intergenerational approach to addressing a number of key issues facing local communities in one of London’s poorest boroughs. Underachievement amongst boys has been addressed in two ways that would otherwise not be on offer through the school curriculum. Firstly, participating young people were mentored by senior men from their own community, who were keen for their voices to be heard on issues that mattered to them, using their lifetime experiences to feed back into society. At the same time master classes at the university with one of the country’s leading control engineers and an artist provided inspiration and fostered skills, creativity and innovation.

Renewable energy is often seen as the remit of statutory institutions or those wealthy enough to afford the significant cost of the equipment involved. However, there is growing interest in the technologies involved amongst ordinary people living in East London. In focusing public attention on these issues, Active Energy aims to address local authorities and housing developers to encourage greater incorporation of renewable energy into residential accommodation in this area.

Part of SPACE’s Learning and Participation programme, Active Energy has involved a multi-discipline collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson, Stephen Dodds, Professor of Control Engineering and Toby Borland, design engineer and manager of the MAGICbox prototype lab at the University of East London.

Geezer Power
Phase 1 – Wind powered temporary public light-work
April 2010 Appian Court, Parnell Road, Bow, London E3 2RS
May – June 2010 Bow Boys Secondary School, Paton Close, London E3 2QE

Phase 2 – Tidal powered temporary public light-work
River Thames

Active Energy is funded by:
Arts Council, England
Leaside Regeneration Ltd
The Woodland Trust.

With thanks for their kind support:
Gateway Housing Association
Age Concern Tower Hamlets
University of East London SMARTlab
Environmental Sustainability Team, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Programme collaboration contents from SPACE here


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SPACE supports over 600 artists in 17 studio buildings across London as well as providing dynamic environments where individuals and communities can engage in creative processes. SPACE provides ‘space to create’: supporting the creation of art through the provision of creative environments; ‘space to engage’: programmes that widen engagement in artistic practices; and ‘space to develop’: supporting the development of creative individuals and communities.

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SMARTlab is featured on Becta’s Emerging Technologies website with a project video demonstrating the potential of new interface technologies such as eye tracking to improve curriculum access for all. Dr Mick Donegan is planning to introduce such technologies at schools across the UK. If you are interested in this technology, you can get in touch with us at

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