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“(Data) Science Behind Pokémon GO” Workshop with Dr Donny Soh

As part of St. Patrick’s School’s industrial partnership programme tie-up with 9 Degrees Freedom, over 30 Secondary Three students attended a Data Science workshop on 23 January 2017. The workshop was conducted by Dr Donny Soh, founder and CEO of 9 Degrees Freedom. Graduated from Imperial College London with a Ph.D. in data mining, Dr Soh had developed the data analytics technology behind his company’s tennis performance sensor, Qlipp.

Titled “Science Lessons behind Pokémon GO”, the workshop touched on a few commonplace technologies at work when a person plays the Pokémon GO game. For instance, the Pokémon GO game utilises gyroscope, a feature found in most smart devices, to detect the device’s orientation. By accessing real-time gyroscopic readings, the game can determine whether the player is putting away the smart device, and go into low power mode. Dr Soh also elaborated that Pokémon GO combines GPS, mapping and satellite services with location services, landmarks and Pokémon characters to make possible the augmented reality game experience, which is the main allure of the game.

As the participants were all Computing students, Dr Soh incorporated some computing exercises to make the workshop more relevant and insightful. For instance, he challenged the students to suggest a sorting algorithm to organise the captured Pokémon characters. Dr Soh also shared the developmental history of Pokémon GO and Snapchat as case studies. Through the case studies, students got to understand that multiple technologies were used in both mobile apps, with each of the technologies being developed over a long period of time. This learning point came across as a fun fact as many of the students had no prior knowledge of how an app is developed.

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Dr Donny Soh explaining how snapchat facial recognition works to the students

At the end of the workshop, the students were more appreciative of how their computing knowledge can be applied into real-world applications. The workshop had also sparked some interest in data analytics and app development. Who knows one of them may build the next killer app in the near future.

 

Written by: Leong Seh Yong