New Scientist Live 2016

By Sinéad Nolan

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One of the questions on the Mendeley Wall at New Scientist Live

New Scientist Live 2016 was a fertile and inspiring ground for science lovers. Luckily for me, it was also full of information on robots and assistive technology as well as a place that many people working on robot projects were congregating.

The robot that can make you a cocktail

While highlights of the day included meeting Imperial College’s ‘DeNiro robot’, having a cocktail made for me by a robot, as well as meeting Pepper (the service robot who guessed my age as 23, a flattering 8 years younger) the talks on the technology stage really added to the experience.

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Nao robot at New Scientist Live

There was a fascinating talk from Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, Chief Executive of Innovate UK on The Future of Healthcare on how medicine is transforming gene therapy, cancer detection and personalised treatment. Billy Boyle co-founder of Ownstonenano also spoke about a new breathalizer which measures metabolites in our breath facilitating the early detection of cancer. Later on in the day, Irina Higgins, Research Scientist from Googles DeepMind did a talk on making AI human – complete with insights  into how a robot brain perceives something in comparison to a humans.

Irina Higgins – Alien Intelligence: Making AI Human

In the below video I ask an organiser from the Mendeley Wall and Alzeimer’s Research UK for their opinion on the future of assistive technology.

Art vs Science


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Art and science can often be thought of as opposing fields. However, here in the CHIRON team we like to get creative with science. Below, Dr Praminda Caleb-Solly, Head of Electronics and Computer Systems at Designability (and one of our project leads) shares her poem about assistive technology…

Where did the inspiration for the poem come from?

One of my recent projects was an Innovate UK Long Term Care Revolution funded project called Connecting Assistive Solutions to Aspirations. The aim was to develop personalised packages of innovative products to help people maintain enjoyable, independent lives in later life.

What was the projects aim?

The work included a review of available assistive technology and aimed to understand older people’s aspirations. The insights from the research helped to surface some startling issues. We found there was a mismatch between people’s aspirations and the aesthetics of the technology available.

When did it occur to you that art could help inspire science?

The problems are so complex that the breakthroughs needed require us to re-imagine and restructure how we think about the design of technology and its use. I received an invitation from the Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol to present at one of their community events, it was accompanied by a manifesto which included a line: “Restore the arts as a core part of the National Curriculum by expanding the priority STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) to include both the Arts and a focus on high-tech crafting and making”. I thought this was brilliant. It inspired me to write something creative for their event, drawing on the findings and experiences of our research participants.

[Are you going my way?] Co-Design? Do you really?

by Praminda Caleb-Solly

Participate they say,
public consultations and co-design sessions
opportunities to have your say,
let’s deliberate,
but do they know what it takes,
for me to get down to the shops would be great

Arthritis and the cold,
my bills are killing me,
and the house might be sold.
You’re always telling me what I need,
In spite of the ‘nothing about me without me’ spiel

But what about that number 4 bus they cut?
And where is the warden when the heating is stuck?
They say they are making the system efficient,
Social care costs have now plunged well past the limit.
There’s a website to voice your objections to the changes,
But I can’t view it, I would if I could, but I can’t even locate it

You can send your views in the post said the chap on the phone,
I wrote ten pages, my patience worn down to the bone,
But then I tried to find the address to send it to,
no one knew,
Still haven’t found out, have you?

To be completed … by you the community