A BU research project which enables schoolchildren with disabilities to take part in artistic activities has won the Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research Award at the Times Higher Education (THE) annual ceremony.
The SHIVA Project (Sculpture for Healthcare: Interaction and Visual Art in 3D) won the award at the THE Awards, one of the most prestigious awards in the Higher Education sector.
The team from BU's National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) developed the SHIVA software system, working with Victoria Education Centre in Dorset - a school for children with physical and learning disabilities.
The software enables students to bring art to life by creating objects using eye gaze or touchscreen technology, before 3D printing the finished result.
Professor John Fletcher, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Bournemouth University, said, “This is brilliant news and I am delighted to be able to congratulate the research team behind the SHIVA Project. The project is a fine example of how our research at BU can be put into action to make a real difference to people’s lives and this THE Award for Outstanding Digital Innovation is a deserved recognition for their innovation, dedication and hard work. Well done to everyone involved.”
Children with little or no limb control can find it difficult to engage with art using conventional methods, and can therefore be excluded from an activity that supports self-expression, builds self-confidence and develops skills such as spatial awareness. The Sculpture for Healthcare: Interaction and Virtual Art in 3D project, or SHIVA – which was supported by European Union funding and includes partners from France and Norway – developed software that allows children to create and 3D-print objects using only their eyes.
With no existing virtual-sculpting software available, the team developed solutions and had to accommodate the different needs and abilities of users. Speech therapists have since used the software to assist with speaking and listening, and with cognitive development exercises. It has also been employed to improve students’ manual dexterity using the touchscreen to increase range of movement.
The judges said the “outstanding success of the Bournemouth team’s work would leave a lasting impact” and, for some children, it would be the first time they were “able to interact with the world in 3D”.
Alexander Pasko, one of the researchers on the project, said, "NCCA graduates often receive Oscars for visual effects, but professors and researchers do not. It was an honour to be shortlisted for the THE Award with such competitors as Cambridge and other universities, but it is an exceptional honour to win it. We want to thank the Bournemouth University administration and the European Commission for sponsoring our project on the 50-50 basis. I also want to thank the MAGE research group at the NCCA for the hard work on the project and our partners in the Victoria Educational Centre in Poole, their teachers and students for their patience and enthusiasm."
Their victory was witnessed by more than 1,100 people, who gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane for the awards last night, hosted by comedian Rory Bremner.
The Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, joined universities from all over the country to celebrate the greatest ideas, the finest practice and the very best researchers and teachers in the sector.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Alison Johns, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Sir Deian Hopkin, president, National Library of Wales, and Joanna Newman, vice-principal (international), King's College London.
The winning team for the award included: Professor Alexander Pasko, Professor Peter Comninos, Dr Leigh McLoughlin, Dr Oleg Fryazinov, Dr Valery Adzhiev, PhD student Mathieu Sanchez and Mark Moseley, who worked for Victoria Educational Centre and is now a BU Doctoral student.
To view all the winners from the evening, visit the THE Awards website.