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Dundee design students to represent UK

20 March 2008, 00:00

Design students from University of Dundee will represent the UK in the Microsoft Design Expo 2008

Design students from University of Dundee will represent the UK in the Microsoft Design Expo 2008.

Students from the university's Innovative Product Design (IPD) and Interactive Media Design courses will compete against other design schools from China, India, US, Mexico and the Netherlands in the annual challenge set by the computer giant.

Each year, the digital design brief asks for exceptional ideas and solutions that think beyond traditional software, which will improve the daily life of users in a variety of ways, from promoting creativity to rethinking systems and tools. This year Microsoft's design challenge is in the area of learning and education.

"This is a great challenge for our students," said Polly Duplock, programme director for the Innovative Product Design course. "These courses are championing the emerging area of digital interactive products and the blurring boundaries of software and hardware."

University of Dundee was first approached by Microsoft to participate in the Expo in July 2007 after a representative from the company saw their exhibit at a new design show.

"They were really impressed with the direction the students' work is going in, particularly the less traditional product design and the interface between physical and digital products. It’s not something that’s being taught anywhere else in the UK," said Duplock.

Earlier this year, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates discussed the coming of the second digital age that would be more focussed on connecting people. He also predicted the replacing of the keyboard and mouse by more natural user interfaces.

“Audio Shelf” (pictured above), designed by Michael Shorter, a graduate of the IPD course at Dundee, is one of the new breed of hybrid objects that could come to embody Gates’s “second digital age”.

Shorter observed that people living in small flats use their music systems as informal shelves which led him to think about how to combine these two functions in a single product.

“The students on our courses are educated to be hybrid designers who have the ability to evaluate and use technology creatively in a design context,” said Duplock. “We hope our graduates will design products that have a positive impact on our changing society”.

A team of students will be chosen to represent the university at the Design Expo and will go to Microsoft’s Research Facility in Washington in July 2008.

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