OSB archive
OSB archive

Did you miss? Meters, docs & binocs

Pete Wilton

Highlights from OU science in the news this week:

Could your electricity meter save £££s and the planet?

That's the hope behind the smart meter technology being developed by Oxford spinout Intelligent Sustainable Energy, as Martin Arnold reports in the FT.

The technology is being commercialised with the help of Oxford University Innovation and Navetas and is the brainchild of Oxford engineer Malcolm McCulloch.

Martin writes: 'His eureka moment came when he noticed that he was using less petrol after switching his car's digital display from mileage to fuel consumption. Professor McCulloch felt there could be a similar drop in home electricity bills if people could see how much power each device was using. So he decided to make one.'

It's a nice piece in which Martin highlights Isis Innovation's recent successes: 'In the past eight years, Isis has helped the university raise more than £335m to create about 60 companies. With a staff of 52 and a budget of £2.5m, it concluded 74 licensing and option deals last year alone.'

Elsewhere more investment was on the cards as EPSRC ploughed £250m into doctoral training.

Oxford was a major beneficiary with £25-£30m going into its four Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs) offering interdisciplinary DPhil training for some of the UK's brightest scientists and engineers.

In The Times Mark Henderson did a nice piece mentioning the work of Oxford DTC student Susannah Fleming into automatic monitoring systems that can detect serious illness in children. 

I remember chatting with EPSRC's Lesley Thompson about how Oxford's Life Sciences Interface DTC helped to pioneer this new type of doctoral training when it first opened its doors way back in 2002.

Finally, pain may be an unavoidable part of life but could some binoculars send it packing?

As The Independent's Jeremy Laurance reports, Oxford researchers have found that those suffering chronic pain could decrease that pain by observing the affected limb through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. Even more amazingly this 'minified' image of their limb can actually reduce its swelling.

The work, published in Current Biology, was carried out by Lorimer Moseley (whilst still at Oxford), Charles Spence of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology, and colleagues.