Student finalists have designs on the future of interaction (duplicate)

Five product design students from Gray's School of Art have been shortlisted in a national competition to find the self-service solutions of tomorrow.

The competition, which pits four of Scotland's top higher education institutions against one another, is being run by global technology company, NCR. The company has a major centre in Dundee and is searching for Scotland's young 'Self - Service Designer of the Year' who will be congratulated with an internship at NCR's R&D base in Dundee and a top of the range iPod.

The five selected Gray's School of Art students are to venture to Dundee on Friday (18 December) to have just two minutes each to pitch their idea to a panel of judges from NCR and Scottish Enterprise, in front of a live audience. Just eight students will be called back later in the day to be cross-examined before the winner is selected.

NCR's self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, gaming and public sector organisations in more than 100 countries. Students taking part in the competition have been asked to consider the future of interaction as part of their brief.

Sue Fairburn, a lecturer in product design at Gray's who has been mentoring the students, explains: "This competition is a great way for the students to gain a better understanding of consumers' needs and of the significant opportunities to improve service through design. They have come up with some really strong ideas and I am delighted that five students will have the chance to present their ideas to industry professionals on Friday."

Nassim Donald (21) from Kaeg, near Alford, has come up with an idea for a virtual postcard, of sorts, using an application on your mobile phone. He says: "Until now, the technology has driven what's possible and people have to do the rest, in terms of blogging and so on. What I am proposing is that we could use existing technologies, such as CCTV or Google Earth, sat nav and bluetooth, and automate these to help people keep up with their friends. For example, GPS could tell the person's site where they are and CCTV could even show a photo, but then the human element is brought back in when the person is able to add their thoughts about the place they might be at or the people they might be visiting."

Charlie Rohan, NCR's Director of Consumer Experience, comments, "It's important to NCR to get input from many different sources - including young people - to identify the trends of tomorrow. NCR is excited about the great ideas that Scottish students are coming up with in this competition. We look forward to giving the winner the opportunity to develop their concept further during their internship at NCR."