Research at the University of Leeds led to the development of UltraCane
— an ultrasonic cane for people who are visually-impaired that gives
tactile feedback to the user's hand with progressive non-contact warning
of obstacles (ground-to-head) up to 4 m. [text removed for publication].
Testimonials from users describe its transformative nature on their
quality of life, giving `a true feeling of independence', whilst
healthcare professionals commend `the simplicity of operation and ease
of use'. Furthermore, with a technology mimicking bat echolocation,
the UltraCane has informed and engaged the wider public in science
and engineering through, for example, the BBC `Miracles of Nature'
series. The technology has also been developed to allow people who are
visually-impaired to cycle independently and safely around a cycle track —
Research into on-line control of crystallisation at the University of
Leeds started in 2002 which led
to a collaboration being formed with Malvern Instruments Ltd (MIL) in 2006
and subsequently to
the development of a new type of instrument capable of measuring particle
shape and shape-
distribution. The instrument range, Morphologi, launched in 2007
has since generated sales for
MIL of approximately £11 million since January 2008. The instrument is now
many industrial sectors and used e.g. to optimise process efficiency and
enhance product quality.
The success of this instrument has contributed to providing secure
employment at MIL and to
obtaining the "Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade" in
Rotating machines are ubiquitous key elements for power generation.
Research has led to impacts
that have improved the design and performance of rotating machinery for
original equipment manufacturers and end-users:
(a) Siemens has adopted new designs of interstage turbine disc rim seals
that reduce gas
leakage paths and hence increase power efficiency/fuel savings in power
turbines. The impacts have protected 4-5 R&D jobs, improved seal
product design, and
enabled reallocation of corporate budgets.
(b) Integrated dynamic/thermal analysis has enabled preventive design
against unstable shaft
thermal bending, known as the Morton Effect in the field of
(c) Research into the functionality of active magnetic bearings has been
transferred into the
standard ISO 14839 1-4 that has brought technology normalisation,
involving changes to
company design practices, to the field. Part 4 was published in 2012.
(d) An oil-free experimental facility has been delivered to GE Global
Research (Munich) to aid in
their compressor designs for subsea machines. GE has benefitted through
transfer and the training of engineers for the design of new machines.
Over the past 10 years there has been a massive expansion in biomass use
for power generation, particularly in the UK and Europe. Research at the
University of Leeds has been crucial in addressing many of the challenges
inherent in moving from coal to biomass including milling, combustion
characteristics, deposition and corrosion enabling adoption of biomass for
power generation. The research has impacted: (1) company strategy and
industry practice for the use of biomass and key technology choices; (2)
society, health and environment via CO2 reduction and emission
reduction; (3) national energy security through an increased fuel
inventory; (4) UK Government and EU policy as expert members of advisory
This impact case concerns the stimulation of public discourse, informing
the awareness, attitudes and understanding of the public as to the
potential for automating science, and the consequences that then arise
regarding ethics, rights and the acquisition of knowledge. It also
concerns debate among legal practitioners.
The Robot Scientist was the first system to fully automate the process of
scientific investigation. This work showed that it was possible. The idea
was immediately picked up by the popular press and covered worldwide (the
fourth most significant discovery in 2009 according to TIME magazine,
reported by TV, radio, national newspapers and magazines, and bloggers).
It engaged the public in debate about AI, robotics, lab automation, and
Research at the University of Leeds underpinned the development and
manufacture of RF filter
technology by Radio Design Ltd, including the 3G `Universal RF
Combiner Unit' with sales of
>£18M (40,000 units) since 2008, which led to the company's Queen's
Award for Enterprise
(Innovation) in 2011. This technology was subsequently improved
specifically for the 2012 London
Olympics for shared use by all five cellular operators, and has now been
further developed, again
using Leeds research, for 4G systems (with >£4.2M sales in 2013). Leeds
contributed directly to ~75% of Radio Design's products, and its
expansion from 11 employees in
2008 to 150 employees today. Leeds-designed RF filters have also been
widely utilized by other
manufacturers, with estimated annual international sales of tens of
millions of pounds since 2008.
In parallel, Leeds research on the physical modelling and design of pHEMT
switches has been
used since 2008 by RFMD (UK) Ltd (previously Filtronic
Compound Semiconductors), who supply
all major mobile phone manufacturers — over 2 billion pHEMT switches are
used worldwide, with
RFMD's estimated sales exceeding £250M since 2008.
A ground-breaking range of innovative sensor products — the EPIC Sensors
— has been developed and marketed world-wide by Plessey Semiconductors
Ltd. The EPIC Sensors allow contact-free measurements of electric
phenomena, initially aimed at the health, sports and automotive markets.
They operate on the non-invasive, low-cost, generic, award-winning
Electric Potential Sensor (EPS) technology invented and developed at
Sussex as a spin-off from fundamental low-temperature physics research.
Income to the University from licence fees, costs and royalties started
during 2012. Sustained industry engagement with key strategic partners in
the medical, forensic, security, materials testing and geophysics sectors,
including government organisations, industry and academia, is leading to a
wider awareness and adoption of this novel technology.
Research at the University of Leeds, in partnership with the US company
has directly resulted in the development of high performance vector
instrumentation used by electronics, aerospace and defence companies
globally to measure the
high frequency properties of electronic devices and materials. University
of Leeds research also
directly resulted in the development of two further Agilent Technologies
products — a high
frequency dielectric probe kit and a capacitance scanning probe
microscope. Agilent Technologies
confirms that the collective sales of these products are in the region of
tens of millions of dollars
annually since 2008.
Innovative application of fluid inclusion analysis led to the development
of a novel technique for mapping mineral deposits. This has been developed
into an exploration tool in collaboration with a leading mineral
exploration company, Randgold Resources. Mapping different fluid pathways
within potentially mineralised terranes through analysis of fluid
inclusion chemistries enables definition of areas through which
mineralising, as opposed to barren ore fluids, passed. Applying this has
enabled Randgold Resources to increase efficiency and save costs in its
exploration and mining activities. Kingston University research has
changed the working practices of Randgold Resources, with consequent
economic benefit to that company.
This case study describes the impact of a sustained programme of research
conducted over more than 10 years, which has changed conceptualisations of
young children's abilities and needs, and shaped national and local
provision from birth to five. The research has influenced early years
policy, secondary legislation, professional standards and training,
curriculum, and the daily experiences of babies, children and
practitioners in every childcare setting in England. It has produced
innovative resources to enhance multi-professional practice, and
significantly contributed to the deployment of high-quality,
interdisciplinary research findings to improve provision, stimulate debate
and challenge conventional wisdom about children and childhood.