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Taking your Ideas Beyond

One CLIK Away

What would you say if your technology could be brought into an innovation forum and that you would be able to see it in action, in a proof of concept, only 3 months later? The concept of rapid prototyping is not new but it usually requires a large investment in time and money to reach this level of speed and output.
Now, add to this that you get blog updates every other week and can use the best concept ideas to show at the next trade show?

Introducing the Politecnico di Torino

A little history first: Torino is known for its rich historical past (home of the Ducs of Savoy), for good food (trust me on this one) and for the Politecnico di Torino: the institution is just over 150 years old and counts 33,000 students.
Torino is also well known for its automotive legacy with FIAT (stands for “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) who’s now a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The Politecnico di Torino has even stronger ties in that industry with the onsite General Motors Global Propulsion development team.

As part of the innovation and link with the industry, I have worked with this establishment and its professors for the last 5 years and can’t get enough of their dynamism and creativity.
CLIK Logo Banner

It just clicks or rather…CLIK

CLIK stands for Contamination Lab and Innovation Kitchen and is a concept elaborated and put in motion by Prof. Massimo Violante who is associate professor at the Department of Control and Computer Engineering (DAUIN).

When asked about the reason for CLIK, Francesco Giancane, CLIK Lab Coordinator associated with the Technology Transfer and Industrial Liaison Department of the Politecnico di Torino who’s role is to help and mentor students in the lab says “Industry (especially technology-involved areas) is fast-paced. New students are required to be constantly in touch with state-of-the-art methods and techniques. University alone can not provide those, so it is necessary to establish collaborations between industries and universities.”
He added “Industries can see those CLIK activities as an incubator where ideas can spread among students; also the students that have previously been in a contamination lab activity know better teamwork and the challenges of real activities, so industry can try their technology in a way similar to learning and teaching experiences towards students, and can get people more accustomed to today’s standard way of working.”

CLIK opened in September 2017 after 6 months of planning. The dedicated lab space created at the Politecnico features a Kitchen area (really) and a large room dominated by a 8m x 2m table where student teams work on their project challenges.

Each CLIK session starts with a mini-Hackathon focused on an industry problematic. With the help of its two current industry sponsors, Conrad Electronics for the 3D printing support and Mouser Electronics for the supply of semiconductor technology, student teams have 2 times ½ days to propose the best project for consideration and win their entry into CLIK. Once the 3 to 4 selected teams are enrolled, they have 3 months to deliver the proof of concept and fulfil the requirements of the challenge at hand.

Summary of the first CLIK challenge

With the theme of “creating a voice-activated lab assistant”, 6 student teams counting each 3-6 members started on September 27, 2017 the process of providing their best ideas for the solution. They were provided with a Raspberry Pi 3 board and instructions to activate Amazon’s Alexa assistant on it. From there, it was all about their creativity and innovation.
Rather quickly, some teams started thinking beyond the technology; packaging, usability and design were part of the problematic given to be resolved. The use of 3D printers helped give a feel of finished product.
Eventually, 4 teams made the cut after the mini-Hackathon and the first season of CLIK started the next day.
The target for the students was spelled out and the sponsors agreed to take the 2 best teams to the Maker Faire in Rome, scheduled for December 1-3, 2017.
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The best teams (Team RAX and Team ToDAy) presented their work on the booths of the sponsors at the event.

Team RAX developed an assisted camera system to help improve communication within the lab and during conference streaming events with other engineering teams. They demonstrated Alexa’s voice recognition and analysis features on the device for camera positioning, start/stop of the streaming or taking pictures.

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Team ToDAy prepared a Tutorial Development Assistant that can create project folders on the Cloud and populate them with pictures, audio and video recording to document the creation of a project or document procedures.
Both teams attracted quite a large number of audiences during the 3-day Maker Faire event and the students walked away with a greater understanding about the soft-skills to be developed to become a greater innovator and engineer.
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When asked about the value of CLIK for the students, Francesco Giancane commented “(CLIK) is the counterpart for the industry side… Students get in touch with modern technologies and how-to’s and can better learn by experience how the world is moving outside the university.”

What’s next? CLIK March 2018 Challenge

Get ready for more innovation during the 2nd CLIK challenge scheduled for March 12-13, 2018. It will drive the students into the IoT world with the creation of a smart lamp that will sense the room environment through video, audio, temperature, hygrometry, light sensors and face recognition to recognise the mood of its occupants and respond to improve the people’s mood towards a more relaxed state via light colour control, music playlists, HVAC controls…
Students will be asked to face one or more of the following challenges:
  • Facial expression recognition
  • Background noise measurement and music playback with noise cancelling capabilities
  • Room temperature/humidity measurement and control through interface with HVAC
  • Room light measurement and control through RGB LED strips
  • Smart lamp shape design and placement in the room and definition of the mood-improving effects

About creating your own CLIK?

The CLIK concept is ready for expansion and creating a CLIK network of labs that will complement each other, leveraging the core knowledge of each university to tackle larger industry challenges and collaborate during the project management. Your technology can be at the core for one or more projects.
Are you intrigued, interested or just curious? Contact me to set up a short call… I am just one CLIK away!

More useful articles on the Stiffan Consulting website. We love supporting startups and established companies to link with universities and other education institutions to foster innovation and create valuable content via team assembly and partnerships. By assisting you in reviewing your goals, understanding the potential markets and validating your approach, we help create a winning strategy to ensure sustainable growth. 

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