Games technology used to redesign ‘ineffective’ smoke alarms
Research project using wireless speakers and app for large-scale test later this year
Video game developers are helping to design a new smoke detector after studies showed that domestic alarms do not wake most children.
Firefighters and forensic scientists have been testing a combination of sounds, which they believe may be more effective. They are planning a large-scale test for the beginning of the school year in September. It will involve users downloading an app to be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth speaker. The testers will set up the alarm and then send the results back via the app.
“Games technology comes into play in this phase of testing,” said Dr Dayna Galloway, head of the Games and Arts division at Abertay University. “The aim is to get good data back and the way you do this is design the app in such a way that people find it easy to use. It’s all about good user experience.”
The research is being carried out by Nic Daeid, professor of forensic science at Dundee University, and Dave Cross, a fireman and part-time Phd student at the university. Cross was one of the investigators in the Philpott fire when six children were killed after their parents had set fire to their home. The house was fitted with working smoke alarms, but the children slept through the noise.
Cross and Daeid subsequently conducted a trial in which 34 children between the ages of two and 13 were each tested six separate times over a three week period; over 80% of the children slept through all six of the smoke detector alarms.
Several sounds have been tried for the new alarm and one has been shown to have a 90% success rate in a study of 41 children; it has been machine generated, but sounds like a lorry reversing, and is interspersed with a human voice alerting people to a fire.
“Games design is good at ‘tutorialising’ the user’s interaction so they know what to do at every stage in terms of setting up the alarm, testing and returning data – following the process to the end,” said Galloway. “It could also be used further down the line in the actual product, making it intuitive for people to set up and use.”
The researchers emphasise that they support fire service advice that people should not give up smoke alarms, adding that if a saleable product emerges from their work it would be seen as an additional layer of safety not as a replacement.
The pandemic has taught me how to share more – and I feel a better leader for it
As a young professional starting out in the tech sector 30 years ago, I thrived on the fast pace,constant change and demanding workload. I lived in London, Singapore and Australia…
We need to shout about our successes. Liz Fletcher on celebrating women in biotech
Throughout my career in biotechnology and life sciences, I have seen many women leading ground-breaking research studies in their fields of expertise. Yet, and I include myself in this, we…
Getting the best out of patient data is key to unlocking future health benefits in Scotland
It is important that clinicians’ voices are heard in the consultation around Scotland’s new health and care data strategy, which closes this week (12 August). Busy GPs like myself are the trusted…
How motherhood helped me be a better leader
Consider this an open letter to anyone I have worked with before I became a mother and before I fully understood how being a parent is actually a prized asset…
‘We cannot achieve our goals without entrepreneurs’ – Kate Forbes on vision for new ‘tech scaler’ network
From the very start of my ministerial career, I have had responsibility for the Scottish tech sector – and I can still say what I have said from the start,…
Finding a role in cyber was ‘tough’ for Cheryl Torano. Now she’s determined to help other women join an under-represented industry
When I decided to upskill to change careers at the age of 30 and dive into the digital world, I knew I would be starting out at the bottom of…
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…