Millstreet Community School (Secondary Level Education); Trinity College Dublin (2011 – present)
B.A.I. & M.A.I. Computer Engineering
Septentrio Satellite Navigation, Aon Center for Innovation and Analytics, Revenue (Information & Communications Technology and Logistics Division), Lumafit, ADAPT Centre
PhD Student, ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, Trinity College Dublin
Easy going computer nerd with a flare for art and sports
I’m a Computer Science PhD student at the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology in Trinity College. The ADAPT Centre develops next generation digital technologies which allow you to explore video, text, speech and image data in a natural way across languages and devices. My research is in the field of ‘Personalisation’ – which is helping technologies know who we are as people and enables them to adapt to us and our preferences.
I’ve been at Trinity 6 years now, having completed my Undergraduate and Master degrees in Computer Engineering here, so safe to say I kind of like it – having come from a small town in north west Cork it took a while to adapt! I enjoyed lots of societies and clubs within the University too such as boxing, badminton, VDP and Suas.
I’ve always had a passion for technology – but before choosing Engineering in Trinity I was considering a career in animation, having enjoyed art in school.
Sport has also been a big hobby of mine – I love running and and going to the gym and feel it’s a great way to wind down after a day at the computer. I’ve played hurling, football, soccer, golf and most recently have taken up tag rugby!
I’m working on helping technology (your phone for example), understand you better. In particular, my work will help your phone understand when it is the right time to deliver a piece of information to you.
If you think about it, every time your phone *dings*, it’s like someone is poking you in the back – it’s getting your attention. This is okay if the person prodding you is Mum, Dad or someone else important – but if this is just a reminder to open Facebook or some other app, it gets quite annoying and distracting! It’s very hard to turn your attention back to the task you were doing before your phone prodded you.
We get so many notifications every day that we’re now that hearing *dings* or our phone vibrate even when nothing has arrived!! Have you ever taken out your phone thinking you heard or felt a notification arrive only to see nothing there?? Some research in this area compares your phone to a slot machine. Every time you unlock your screen, it’s like playing a slot machine – if you’ve received a notification, you win – if you haven’t you lose. This can get addictive!!! Especially if you play this “slot machine” multiple times a day, 365 days a year.
At the moment I’m working on a mindfulness coach which can sit in your phone and determine which notifications you need to see immediately. It also hopes to determine notifications which could cause addictive behaviour, and keep them for a time when they will be less harmful to you. Think of it as an assistant that has your best interests at heart.
In order to do this, I’m building a mobile application which runs on your phone. It observes your habits and creates a model of your personality/interests based on your interactions with your phone. This data is then fed through algorithms (neural networks!) which can predict the times to best deliver a notification. For example, if you’re in class and you get a notification about a disco later that night, it would be distracting to receive it straight away. You might get in trouble if your phone makes a sound or you might get distracted if your phone vibrates. The message isn’t urgent so the assistant will alert you at break, lunch, or after school – whenever it thinks will suit you best!
My Typical Day:
Reading papers, coding, testing, failing, adapting solution, testing.. probably still failing, but learning lots!
I generally start my typical day by reading papers. The best way to stay up to speed on new technologies, techniques and algorithms that can benefit my work is to read research papers from conferences that are related to my work. For example, I read papers from the Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT) journal. I also read/reply to emails first thing in the morning as it helps me focus and means I can concentrate on my work without distractions for the rest of the day!
After reading papers I usually dive back into some practical work. This varies depending on the current stage of my experiments. It could be that I am coding a mobile app with Java or Kotlin in Android Studio, or cleaning data collected from an experiment, or implementing an algorithm which will make predictions, or analysing the results of an experiment or simply writing up a paper which describes the experiment, results and conclusion.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Patient Reflective Creative
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes - just not in Dad's class!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Well I'm listening to the Sleeping at Last right now!
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
That my research would make a positive impact on the world, I start my own successful business and that I have unlimited wishes (obviously!)
Tell us a joke.
Wifi went down during family dinner tonight. One kid started talking and I didn't know who he was.
What don't you like about your current job?