After a long journey by plane and the National Express bus from London to the Nottingham Coach Station we arrived around midnight in the city. A little bit disoriented we still made it after a few wrong turns to our accommodation, which was the “Kaplan Global Point” dormitory and actually located right in the centre of Nottingham. All important stores and shops as well as the university were always in walking distance, which made everything really easy. The dormitory was quite new, clean and spacious and the staff was very welcoming and showed us to our rooms although we arrived in the middle of the night.
We arrived on Saturday night so we had the full Sunday to explore the city and stroll through the streets. We knew our schedule was fully packed so we enjoyed this free day that was accommodated by a nice welcome dinner in the evening with all participants of the course, the lecturers as well as the Dean of Nottingham Trent University. We had the pleasure to listen to some exciting stories and a few inventions and companies (like e. g. the company Boots and the famous British HP sauce ;) ) that come from Nottingham and were quite surprised. The food was delicious and the talks were delightful.
On Monday our official program started and we were introduced to the world of smart e-textiles and innovation & design. We visited a company called “Kitronic” and were lead around the company to gain insights about what they do everyday and what kind of products they produce and sell. It turned out they produce textiles in which conducting thread was embedded, as well as LEDs and batteries. It all comes in a pack or kit with the textile in which the stitches are drawn into already – they mostly sell educational kits for children from which they can learn about electricity plus creating their own stuffed animal – with e. g. blinking eyes through the LEDs.
From that day on our task was to create new ideas how and in which products Kitronic could use their existing technology and electronics. As the course was about innovation and not invention (2 very different meanings as we learned in one of the lectures) there were no limits set regarding creativity and open mindedness.
We were split in groups and started to brainstorm for a few hours. The next day we came close to finalizing an idea but as we were trying to stay as open and creative as possible we still didn’t want to finalize that idea and look for something else. The company visits and industrial speakers we saw taught us, that innovation can be used in nearly every business area such as dental care, real estate businesses or instruction companies. There is simply no limit.
On the 2nd last day we felt we went through our ideas enough, did extensive and sufficient research and chose an idea, which derived originally form our first day, which was to give people who were poor in communication (like e. g. mute people or the elderly) a voice through a wristband including different colours that singalized different basic needs like hunger, thirst and more.
Our final idea then was to create a wristband that sends off a light signal as a reminder to drink water or take medicine. During our thorough research we found out that dehydration was a very big issue for the elderly, children, active people and people in general who have problems in drinking the suggested amount of at least 2 litres of water per day. We created a prototype out of textiles, LEDs and the conducting thread and created a wristband that blinked whenever you push the button that was embedded in the band as well. We also developed future ideas such was including a GPS tracker, enabling to measure heart rate and temperature (during our lectures we found that this type of garment already exists) and a lot more.
Kitronic was very satisfied with our idea and overall I can say that it was a great experience and I learned a lot.
I had to remind myself all the time to stay open-minded and not being too stubborn about wanting to pursue my own ideas. I had to keep in mind that innovation is applicable in any field and to be creative.
I can only recommend this week to everyone who wants to go beyond their limits, think outside the box and of course: have a great evening with enchanting stories of Nottingham and Robin Hood.