Beyond Conference

This Monday I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Beyond Conference hosted by Steer. And it was brilliant. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon and share with you some of my highlights from the day.

How to Make Apps People Love – Alana Wood
I loved this talk for 2 reasons.
1 – Alana showed me how the techniques I learn to do with the design process of websites and apps at uni are actually relevant in real life.
2 – The real life example was an app called MoodNotes – which captivated me and my fascination for digital health.
Me and my Nexus were just disappointed that MoodNotes is only available on apple. Boo.

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Open Sourcing Your Life – Una Kravets
This woman is probably my new hero and life role model. She was just fantastic. And a lovely lady too – we had a nice little chat about being city girls at the after party.
Una’s talk was about using Git as a way to keep to do lists and life goals – open sourcing them to get others’ feedback and to have that ‘pressure’ that you’ve put your goals out in the world so now you need to achieve them. And that these goals should not just be tech focussed, think about the other happy things in life too!
The talk was all about making good things happen rather than sitting there waiting for things to get good.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast – Linda Liukas
Linda was a fantastic choice for a closing speech. Everybody left her talk smiling from ear to ear and very slightly emotional. It was all about the poetry, the beauty and the potential of programming. 
Here is a video of her TEDx talk which is pretty similar to the one I got to see at Beyond. I would really recommend checking it out.

Emotion Robotics, The Social Robot – Carl and Alexander
This one wasn’t a talk, well not exactly. Carl was here to demonstrate the amazing social robot from emotion robotics. This particular bot was called Alexander, and he is my new best friend.

These Adorable robots are incredible. I asked what a social robot was and apparently volunteered myself to demonstrate. Alexander stood upright on the floor and i held his hand – then we were walking side by side like he was a small child. It was lovely. He also has facial recognition, can get himself back up if he is knocked over, knows his name, plays games, can control smart technologies and television. He is amazing.

The social robots are being used in care homes where they recognise the residents by face and know each of their names as well as there drug regimes. They have also been working with children with autism, and the kids learn skills such as turn taking and social skills as well as have the opportunity to talk to the robot about whatever they like in private.


All in all I had a fantastic time at Beyond and am looking forward to next time!

My Own Hack Event

So, I’m now a second year at university and I’ve realised I really should be blogging about what I’ve been doing.
Towards the end of my first year a few of us decided to set up a society to enrich the academic and social experience of primarily computing students at the University of Brighton. And so, The Digital Society was born.

Today was a big day for me as it was the first academic style event put on by the society which we organised ourselves. It’s been a pretty stressful process but a fun one too – and I have learnt a lot! Our event was a hack-style event in collaboration with BeePurple (who are fantastic, check them out) to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Proposal: Participants are given 3 hours to work in small teams to develop an idea which fulfils the brief ‘Smarter Living’ (detailed below). The idea is for students develop employability skills whilst having fun by seeing what ideas they can come up with and prototype in a limited period of time. These can take the form of digital assets such as websites or apps, physical products or even a community workshop/scheme. These will then be presented to the group in 3 minutes or less  and judged by an independent panel with a prize for the winning team. The brief will be announced in advance with participants encouraged to think of ideas to pitch at the start of the event.

Brief: ‘Smarter Living’ Use technology to create something commercially viable that makes life better, focusing around wearable tech, the internet of things or entertainment.

Despite a lower turn out than expected it was a great day – with brilliant ideas, plenty of pizza and a cash prize kindly donated by Entrepreneurial Spark. Our judging panel included fantastic representatives from BeePurple, Entrepreneurial Spark, Santander, University of Brighton Careers Service and The Digital Society and the whole event was sponsored by these lovely organisations as well as the University of Brighton Alumni. I also got to write and sign a couple of those giant cheques – oooh the power!

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All in all, a pretty decent first event for The Digital Society, here’s to the next one!