It is the second largest of three universities in the city, the other two being the Aston University and University of Birmingham. Initially established as the Birmingham College of Art with roots dating back to 1843, it was designated as a polytechnic in 1971 and gained university status in 1992.
The university has seven campuses serving six faculties, and offers courses in art and design, business, the built environment, computing, education, engineering, English, healthcare, law, the performing arts, social sciences, and technology. A proposed £125million extension to its campus in the city centre of Birmingham, part of the Eastside development of a new technology and learning quarter, is to open in two stages, with the first phase opening its doors in 2013. The university is a designated Skillset Media Academy, a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for health and social care, and a member of the million+ group of New Universities.
Birmingham City University is the West Midlands’ largest provider of higher education for undergraduate study, and its portfolio of part-time courses is among the biggest in the UK. Roughly half of the university’s full-time students are from the West Midlands, and a large percentage of these are from ethnic minorities. The university runs access and foundation programmes through an international network of associated universities and further education colleges, and has the highest intake of foreign students in the Birmingham area.
Birmingham City University research articles from Innovation Toronto
A revolutionary “smart” cane enabling the visually impaired to instantly identify friends and family could be available soon, thanks to students at Birmingham City Univ.
The “XploR” mobility cane, being developed by ICT students Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett, uses smartphone technology to recognize familiar faces from up to 10-m away. The cane also features GPS functionality to aid navigation.
The device has added importance for one of its developers, Steve Adigbo, whose grandfather is blind. Steve said: “My grandfather is blind and I know how useful this device could be for him. The smart cane incorporates facial recognition technology to alert the user when they are approaching a relative or friend. There’s nothing else out there like this at the moment.”
The Birmingham City Univ. team have already presented the XploR cane to medical and science professionals in Luxembourg and France, and plan to visit organizations in Germany later this year.
“Medical and health care companies in France really liked the product. Hopefully it’ll be making a real difference to people’s lives soon,” said Waheed.
The students have designed the XploR cane to detect faces up to 10-m away, vibrating when detecting a recognizable individual from a bank of images stored on an internal SD memory card.
The device will guide users towards friends and family members using an ear piece and audio guidance, with the information being relayed through bluetooth technology.