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Prime Minister praises Warwick's "Digital Lab"

Prime Minister praises "Digital Lab" that puts consumer in "mass customization" production process

The University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group is creating a Warwick Digital Laboratory - a £50 Million pound project which will provide a high quality research environment that will allow researchers to develop techniques that will place consumers right inside a "mass customization" production process for a vast range of future products.

Digital technologies extend the way we communicate; enabling the creation, sharing, use and exploitation of information in digital form to learn, explore and create innovative products and processes. The idea of creating a Digital Lab came from WMG Director Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya. Three of the fields of research to be undertaken in the Digital Lab include:

* Digital Manufacturing; a "cradle to grave" approach can be adopted for all products, where from conception (where potential customers can visualise and interact with a virtual product) to disposal (where policy makers can be shown that there will be no negative environmental impact)

* Mass customisation - consumers want individual products at the same cost as mass produced items. Digital technology allows the consumer to "insert themselves" in the production process so their product can be personalised to their individual needs and assembled wherever in the world the appropriate technology is available.

* Digital Healthcare; incorporating advanced digital approaches for the enhancement of medical diagnosis and care, as well as creating realistic virtual environments for the training of surgeons or the design of new operating theatres

The facility will also explore using virtual reality methods of presenting images
and data, to: help understand how people judge the quality of a product or service (Product Perception); support both marketing and operational functions; use 'Serious Games' to increase business agility and efficiency.

The Warwick Digital Laboratory will be housed in £12.5M building, which will begin construction before the end of 2006, and which will provide a research base for multidisciplinary teams in areas as diverse as manufacturing, medical informatics, electronics fabrication and nanotechnology. Three leading Professors have been appointed to work in the Digital Lab (one from the US, one from Singapore, and one from Bristol University - details below) and Warwick Manufacturing Group is in the process of appointing three more.

Speaking about the lab Prime Minister Tony Blair said:

"When we talk about ground-breaking science with practical applications, we need look no further than the West Midlands. The Warwick Digital Laboratory will provide a high quality research environment for multidisciplinary teams. One aspect of this research is creating realistic virtual environments for the training of surgeons or the design of new operating theatres. This is research which will position the UK at the forefront of medical technology."

It will use the power of emerging 3D visualisation techniques, and interactive tools, to research how to bring together designers with customers in the conceptual design, and prototyping and testing of a products 'in a virtual reality before production. This technology is a particularly effective catalyst for innovation as one can be extremely inventive in the virtual world of digital manufacturing since the cost of design failure in a virtual world is little more than 'a learning experience'. The technology will also be used to look at the simulation of hospital processes (eg accident and emergency), visualisation (eg of pre-operative planning), clinical interventions (eg tailored implants through scanning and rapid manufacturing),
Details on the first three Professorial appointments

Professor Alan Chalmers
Currently Professor of Computer Graphics, Department of Computer Science
University of Bristol. Arrives Warwick Manufacturing Group 1st March 2007
Phone: 0117-9545150 Email:

Expert in High fidelity computer graphics, Visual Perception, Parallel Processing and Archaeological site reconstructions. He and his research team use computing power and techniques to produce computer simulations that run at high speeds yet still have the ability to make detailed calculations that that can display the real physical laws of how changing light etc effects what you see. His techniques have been applied to everything from industrial and commercial virtual reality to the creation of 3D imagery to assist the study of Byzantine Art in Cyprus, and Bosnian archaeology. One example being flame-lit environments offer competently produced images but are let down by the way they are illuminated. The use of generic lighting fails to produce an adequate sense of perspective. His techniques use data that accurately represents specific light sources. Those image synthesis techniques him to simulate the distribution of light energy in a scene with great precision.

Professor Dariusz (Darek) Ceglarek: From University of Wisconsin-Madison now here at Warwick Manufacturing Group University of Warwick 024 76 572681

He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 1994 following his diploma in production engineering from Warsaw University of Technology in 1987. In 2000 he joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor and Professor in 2003 and 2005, respectively. His research work has been sponsored by numerous governmental and private agencies including the US National Science Foundation and NIST-ATP; Motorola, Ford, General Electric, DaimlerChrysler and DCS among others.

Professor Sujit Banerji :Formerly Practice Associate Professor of Operations Management
Singapore Management University Singapore Management University
Also until recently held a senior post in IBM Singapore now arrived at Warwick
Country Manager, Strategic Outsourcing, IBM, 2000 - 2003
Expert in Technology and World Change, Globalization and Business Process Outsourcing

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager, Communications Office, University House
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 8UW
024 76 523708 email: