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7 October 2015

Dress/Sense was a competition launched by SPHERE that brought together designers, engineers, students and school pupils to create wearable technology that could provide a clear healthcare benefit. It was a way to start conversations about the SPHERE project whilst bringing interdisciplinary teams together in Bristol.

SPHERE is an interdisciplinary research collaboration that is developing a Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment. Essentially researchers from the University if Bristol, Southampton, Reading and other partners are working together to develop sensors that can build a picture of how we live in our homes. When there is a change in this normal behaviour that suggests there is a medical emergency or a gradual change in a condition, appropriate help can be called. The idea of sensors in the home can be quite controversial and one way of opening up conversations about the development in health care was the Dress/Sense competition.  

The competition was comprised of eight interdisciplinary teams working together to create a wearable piece of healthcare technology. The groups were made up of designers, PhD students, engineers and Bristol school children who collaborated to come up with some fantastic ideas; everything from GPS devices to assist people affected by dementia, to socks that help prevent deep vein thrombosis.

Over six weeks the teams worked together to develop their concepts; the school children getting to work with experts and technology they wouldn’t normally encounter. The designers and engineers also benefited by getting to work closely with people completely out of their field who will think and approach problems in a different way.

The winning team ‘Yo!’ created a watch designed to help users with depression. It will support their Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and break negative thought cycles to hopefully result in positive changes of mood. The watch collects data and is connected to a robot at the end of the day which will produce CBT homework as well as recharging the watch.

‘Yo!’ were presented with their £5,000 prize at an award ceremony by Bristol Mayor George Ferguson.

'This is exactly what Bristol is about. It’s about bringing together the young and the old, bringing technology and the arts together because this is really clever and it is about making a healthier city' - George Ferguson

The Dress/Sense project, led by Professor Ian Craddock, was highly commended in the 2014/15 Engagement awards.

Further information

To learn more about the competition

For more information on the SPHERE project

The engagement awards are run by the Centre for Public Engagement at the university.

Dress/Sense was funded by SPHERE (an EPSRC IRC) with support from:Toshiba, Kinneir Dufort, the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Designability.