Cisco logo
University students compete to change the world using the ‘Internet of Things’
Monday, February 20, 2017

‘The Internet of Things, the concept of embedding physical objects (tools, vehicles, buildings etc.) with technology and connecting them to the internet, is swiftly becoming an intrinsic facet of our modern world. Examples range from a toothbrush that can tell your smartphone how well you’re brushing your teeth, to sensors within aircraft engines that monitor data and faults and share them in real-time.

It is this growing ubiquity of the Internet of Things that led six teams of undergraduates to Cisco’s UK headquarters on the 9 February, ready to compete in the grand final of the Switch-Up Challenge.

Cisco, pioneers of networking technology for over 30 years, launched the Switch-Up Challenge in partnership with TARGETrecruit in September 2015. The competition, aimed at UK university students, tasks them with devising an innovative mechanism that can tackle a social or environmental issue by using the Internet of Things. Teams of three to five students from across the UK were then invited to submit a project plan for their device, for the chance to win a place at the grand final and have their idea reviewed before a panel of judges. The prize for the winning team is a week-long trip to Cisco’s global headquarters in San Jose, California.

The overall winner of the competition was Hard Air – five students from Queen Mary University of London, all studying for bachelors degrees in computer science. They impressed the jury with their project, ‘Spyne’. Spyne is a revolutionary posture tracker that comprises of a thin, embedded, ‘T’-shaped strip designed to monitor the wearer’s posture, and an app on their phone. It aligns with the user’s spine and across their shoulders to track unhealthy bends in the back and rolling of the shoulders.

It pairs with the phone via Bluetooth to sends the data to the app, which alerts the user after prolonged periods of bad posture. It also creates real-time renderings of the spinal shape and allows for posture ‘review’ – providing graphical illustrations of users’ posture compared to the recommended shape over time.

The runner-up was the team Cyber Creepers from Staffordshire University. The students came up with a device for motorcyclists that recognises an accident and a possible serious injury.

In third position was the University of Edinburgh’s WITGCL, who wished to create a vigilante experience within the community to build trust among those who feel unsafe in an ever changing environment. ‘It was great to hear from the enthusiastic students. They all presented ideas to reflect the world-changing possibilities that technology and the Internet of Things can provide,’ said Dr Alison Vincent, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Systems UK & Ireland, and part of the judging panel.

The Switch-Up Challenge is also being run by Cisco’s Germany office, with the grand final taking place in Frankfurt on 3 March.

Student's wishing to be considered for next year’s Switch-Up Challenge can email:


Notes for editors

About TARGETrecruit

TARGETrecruit is the recruitment arm of GTI -  the global leader of early talent recruitment services. We support a wide range of employers to manage their early talent recruitment. 

About Cisco

Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected.

Share this article