Hero photograph
2016 Information Science Technology Challenge - University of Otago
Photo by Sandra Whipp

Best Understanding of Technology Winners

Nicholas Tregonning, Louis Whitburn and Max Freeman. —

On Monday the 27th of June, three students participated in the Information Science Technology Challenge at the University of Otago. 

Max Freeman, Louis Whitburn and Nicholas Tregonning comprised Team Widdlebiscuit and visited the Business Department on Leith Street where they competed against 11 other teams from 9 different schools. For the first part of the morning, all of the teams watched a total of four presentations focusing on computer hardware, augmented reality, collaborative decision making and data mining. After viewing the presentations, we split into our teams to brainstorm ideas for the task; find a problem with the world today that we could fix with technology. After we planned an idea, we were to present our idea to a panel of judges at the end of the day in a “Dragon’s Den”-esque manner.

During lunch break, the teams moved from the labs in Leith Street to a research annexe on the corner of Albany and Clyde Street to look at research from postgraduate students. The bulk of the research focused on virtual reality, and utilized technologies such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to demonstrate the research they had. One of the more entertaining setups was a sandpit with an Xbox Kinect and projector used to project contour lines onto the sand, so we could shape a landscape and have the terrain colour change in real time between snow, water, grass, etc depending on altitude. There was also a three-dimensional visual representation of a tesseract, which is basically a four-dimensional cube, in virtual reality, which was able to be manipulated.

The competitors were of a high calibre this year with a total of 4 prizes. Our team Widdlebiscuit won the Best Understanding of Technology prize (second year in a row). Our idea was based around improving the comfort of wheelchair and mobility scooters, with a Google Maps-like program that collected data about terrain passability and used it to inform users about what route is best or easiest for where they want to go. A fun day was had by all and an amazing experience for our team to participate in.