Archive for 31st March 2016

mN select winners of UTC@MediaCityUK competition


Last week, UTC@MediaCityUK students headed over to the mN studio to pitch their vision pieces on the future of digital. In case you missed it, this was to help celebrate mN’s fifteenth anniversary as a digital design studio (you can read the full story here). For the competition, we asked students born the same year as mN to create an idea that looked to the next 15 years in digital product and service design.

After some of the mN team visited the college back in December, the final groups were shortlisted from a selection of 20 + pitches. We chose four groups that delivered something original; whose ideas had the potential to be realised as digital products of the future.

For the final, we asked the students to condense their presentations and deliver them in the form of an elevator pitch, lasting just three minutes. Within this time, the students explained their concepts and presented their vision pieces; leaving lots of time for questions. The design and technical team loved listening to all their ideas and were impressed by their delivery and fresh perspectives offered on the future of the digital industry.

Before we reveal the winner, here’s a quick summary of the finalists’ ideas:

Group 1: WATCHIO

Radio & Audio specialists Jack & Jack (that’s right) kicked off the pitches with WATCHIO – a smart watch that recommends songs tailored to suit your mood. Equipped with a Bluetooth ear piece, users can tell WATCHIO how they’re feeling, resulting in a radio channel that represents a genre most suitable.

Why we liked it:

Jack & Jack showed plenty of enthusiasm and put a lot of thought into every aspect of their pitch. We also liked their environmentally conscious approach to the design, offering a solar panel across the strap of the watch!
Group 2: Digikitchen

In a nod towards trends around the Internet of Things, TV and Film students Ethan, Paige and Beth pitched Digikitchen – a digital app to manage all of your smart kitchen appliances in one place. The app connects to different items in your kitchen, allowing you to be notified on food you’re running low on, control the temperature of your oven etc.

Why we liked it:

We really enjoyed their vision piece and were impressed with how they articulated the idea. Even though smart kitchens have been on people’s radars for some time, the group showed how the tool would not only help people in their homes but also benefit a range of businesses including restaurants and catering services.
Group 3: Givechester

Making great use of Manchester’s MiGuide screens, TV and Film students Katie, Jessica and Caitlyn pitched Givechester – an app to help the homeless. The donation app would allow the public to list available goods from their smartphone whilst those in need use interactive screens across the city centre to view the items up for donation. Only once registering a profile can the donor and recipient arrange a collection, which is recorded via the app to ensure a safe and smooth meet up.

Why we liked it:

With an increasing number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester, we admired Katie, Jessica and Caitlyn’s decision to creating something that would benefit the wider community. We thought Givechester offered a great way to help those in need across Manchester, utilizing digital services that are accessible for the public whilst encouraging more people to donate to the homeless.
Group 4: Digital Art Café

Graphics and Design student Henry introduced us to Digital Art Café. Shifting to physical spaces for digital tools and services, the idea of Digital Art Café is to provide a creative space for those developing new skills or working in the digital industry. The café would offer a range of digital classes, which visitors can take part in whilst sipping on their favourite cup of coffee.

Why we liked it:

Although there are places that offer PC and Mac suites for creative types such as Manchester Central Library, we loved Henry’s ambition of creating a workspace with digital at the heart. There is certainly a huge opportunity to create city centre spaces for young developers and designers to collaborate and learn.

After the students presented their pitches, the mN team huddled together to discuss who would be crowned winner of the competition. After a heated discussion, Katie, Jessica and Caitlyn were chosen for their Givechester idea. We felt that they offered something original yet realistic; and were inspired by their decision to use technology for social good.

Whilst we’re happy to have a winner for the project, all four groups resonated with us for different reasons. Therefore, we’ve offered all of the students support in the future, whether this be work experience or advice on how to bring their idea to life.

We want to thank all of the students for their hard work and the finalists for coming into the studio to share their creativity with us. Here’s to the next 15 years of digital, it’s sure to be in safe hands with young talent like this.

– Article taken from the Magnetic North website.


BBC Director-General Cuts The Ribbon at UTC@MediaCityUK

BBC Director-General Tony Hall officially opened the £10 million UTC@MediaCityUK campus building today – with the help of CBBC presenter Hacker T Dog! Not to be upstaged by the D-G’s digital ribbon cutting, Hacker found a real ribbon for his own opening ceremony and led students in a rendition of Don’t stop me now.

The new University Technical College at the heart of MediaCityUK in Salford opened for its first students in September, attracting a great deal of attention from students, parents and business.

Designed for 14-18 year olds who have a passion for shaping digital and creative content the UTC’s students study a mixture of academic GCSEs, A levels and technical qualifications as well as getting hands-on, practical experience in specialist pathways such as TV & Film, Graphics & Design, Radio & Audio, and Interactive Media & Gaming.

Tony Hall joined MediaCityUK chief executive Stephen Wild and Sir Rod Aldridge, chair of UTC co-sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, on a tour of the campus, seeing students practising circus skills, working in TV and radio studios, on history and graphics projects. They also met students who have already started their own businesses in the college’s Entrepreneurship Pods.

Earlier student Gabby Sutton presented to the guests on her experience at the UTC, saying:

“I can literally see my future through the window. I can see myself running my own radio shows, researching, being a reporter. And all of that is just a walk away. We are in the heart of Media City… This means we are able to work with the BBC, ITV as well as the University to help our understanding of the media industry.”

The UTC is supported by a strong network of employers including Oracle, Cisco, RM, UKfast Panasonic,The Landing, Flix, Apadmi, Microsoft and Unity. Given its close proximity UTC students are also building close links with the BBC. They have been invited to take part in research projects into virtual reality, producing films with Brook Advisory service and have had talks on film making. BBC presenters have given assemblies on their careers at the Corporation and the UTC is connected to the BBC’s apprenticeship scheme.

Tony Hall said: “I’m delighted to open the new UTC. This college is nurturing the next generation of creative talent – the next generations of digital innovators. You can just sense a real entrepreneurial spirit, here and there’s a great sense of adventure already.”

He encouraged the UTC’s students to “Go play – bust boundaries!”

Anne Casey, who completes her term as the UTC’s founding Principal in the summer, said: “This has been a fantastic day and a real reflection of what makes the UTC such a special place. In the run up to opening our students used the hashtag “unstoppable” as they exchanged messages about coming here, and so it was really fitting to hear Don’t stop me now sung today – even by Hacker!”

“I’d like to thank Tony Hall and the BBC, but also all of the other great employers who work with our students. Alongside our sponsors the University of Salford, the Lowry and the Aldridge Foundation they are a big part of the reason that we were oversubscribed in our opening year and are again for next year.”