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2014 Press Releases

Smart Toys catch Santa in UCC

23 Dec 2014
Christmas in UCC Image Kevin Barrett, Staff Common Room

A number of smart toys captured Santa on camera while he was delivering presents on UCC campus.

Inspired by the words of No Limbs No Limits star and UCC student Joanne O’Riordan, an Embedded Systems team from Electrical and Electronic Engineering developed some smart toys capable of catching Santa when he brought presents to all the good children. At the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union's Conference, 'Girls in Technology' in 2012 Joanne spoke of how technology helped improve the quality of her life.  Joanne has Total Amelia Syndrome which means she has no limbs, and she challenged those present to develop more capable robots.


The toys were  filmed in the Staff Common Room on  UCC campus, in a room used as a library when George Boole ( was professor of Mathematics at UCC. In 2015 UCC celebrates the bicentenary of George Boole.


UCC’s response to Joanne O'Riordan's  challenge was to develop some smart, low-cost toys and intelligent interfaces between toys and children using the latest advances in wireless embedded systems and sensor technologies. This year toys were developed particularly for those children  who won’t see Santa including children with disabilities, children in hospitals or simply children falling asleep before Santa comes. The Embedded Systems team which developed the toys included: Michele Donovan, Fiona Edwards Murphy, James Cunningham, and Emanuel Popovici (supervisor).

This project is a continuation of the interdisciplinary U-Play(Unified Networks for Interacting with Toys for Children with Disabilities) project which won  second prize in the international contest called IEEE/IBM Smarter Planet Challenge in 2013. The  team was led by Dr Emanuel Popovici and Dr Michele Magno (Electrical and Electronic Engineering).  It also included Fiona Edwards-Murphy, Alex Jaeger, Tadhg Lambe (all Electrical and Electronic Engineering), Andreea Zagoneanu (Occupational Therapy) and Merisa Bradley(Early Years and Childhood Studies). The Embedded Systems toy robots have also given Michael Flatley a run for his money in the past, taking on the complex task of keeping up with Riverdance:



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