Project Lead

Professor Irene Ng


The DROPS project investigates the technology, business, economic and legal models of personalisation in a decentralised data economy. The project will do this through the creation of ThingBox, a cloud-enabled space where HAT owners can store the data of the things they own.  This data can be informed by both the organisation's data, as well as the HAT owner's data, resulting in a personalised offering for the owner. ThingBox is therefore a collaborative personalisation space for HAT owners and organisations to come together with their own data to create highly personalised experiences with equitable benefits to both. DROPS project will be specifically working with children's publishers for e-books as the first ‘Thing’ in the ThingBox.

For e-books, a child's HAT (under the guardianship of the parent or a guardian) could be used to collect reading data, and through dynamic signals and machine learning algorithms from the Smart HAT Engine, feed back into the e-book ThingBox in the cloud. The content of the e-book from the children's publishers could then be changed dynamically to aid learning in real time as the child turns the page of the book. The child's learning progress is then stored in his or her HAT so that learning can become part of a person's life-long journey of digital memories, together with other HAT data.

The project investigates economic models (the design of transactions), legal models (rights and contracts), data science models (algorithms) as well as children's learning models to advance the understanding of personalised cyber-social-physical things (like e-books, TVs, cars) that work with decentralised HAT private micro-servers.

The £1.2m DROPs project, starting 1 September 2018, is the latest EPSRC TIPS2 project. It runs over 24 months, bringing together three of the original HAT investigators: Professor Irene Ng, creator of the HAT and Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at WMG, University of WarwickProfessor Glenn Parry, University of West England and Professor Roger Maull, University of Exeter. They are working with UCL Institute of Education's Dr Natalia Kucirkova, who leads on the ESRC Future Leaders grant on personalised children's reading; and Dr Asimina Vasalou leading the iRead project on learning software for primary school children across Europe, which aims to increase their reading attainment skills

The HAT Community Foundation is proud to be the lead partner on the project, working with children's publishers such as Pickatale.com and Kuato Studios as well as with IoT SMEs such as Quensus.com.

The DROPS project will create several open-sourced artefacts and technologies on the HAT platform feeding into the live HAT ecosystem, which already has more than 1,000 members using HATs (get your HAT here) and rapidly scaling. The HAT ecosystem therefore provides a route to greater impact for applications in the decentralised personal data exchange system enabled by HAT micro-servers (Technical information for building applications available here). For more information, visit https://hubofallthings.com

What Project Partners say:

Daniel Simmons, CEO, Quensus.com

"As an IoT device maker, the creation of ThingSpace is a capability that we would be very interested to support. While our online software, “FlowReporter”, is not in personalised reading space, we are interested to explore working and learning from the project team for the use of ThingSpace for flow meters. It is certainly a potential solution for our current challenge of where the usage data of flow meters could go into for our users after they have purchased the device in such a way that can be GDPR compliant and scalable."

Sigbourn Dugal, CEO, Pickatale.com

"We fully recognise the importance and the ambition of the project and its relevance to the business and research activities of my company. Children’s publishers need a straightforward means of effectively leveraging personalisation – both economically and educationally whilst protecting end users’ privacy.

Our company’s goals is to develop an adaptive learning system which will help the teachers and parents to prepare personalised lessons to teach English. With the the DROPS project, we believe we will be able to answer some questions, such as: How to design personalised e-books, and how to best implement the data provided by the app in the customisation of our e-books. "

Amy Walkers, Studio Manager, Kuato Studios

"Here at Kuato Studios we believe that children deserve to be able to use technology in a way that enhances their overall experience of learning. By being able to personalise the way they learn, particularly in the way they read, it will only encourage children to continue to read and develop their language skills. Storytelling is at the heart of all our games, and is a fantastic outlet for children’s amazing imaginations. But storytelling means nothing to imaginations if children aren’t able to tell their own story, which is why personalisation is so important, to us and to them."