Following on from our successful event at the Hackney New School, on November 30th we hosted our second Technology in Health day at Petchey Academy. Students from the Petchey and Cardinal Pole schools and volunteers from a prominent multinational bank raced against time to create pain monitoring and alleviation devices, and were hacking with the latest technology thanks to the BBC, who lent the event their award-winning Micro:Bit hardware. It was a great day, and we achieved a lot in a short amount of time.
We had three aims: to impart new technology skills to children; to promote new healthcare software applications; and to build awareness for CORE. Anne Currie, co-founder of Microscaling Systems and leading industry speaker, came along to give an inspiring talk to the students on future technology in development that wouldn’t be amiss in a comic book – the use of artificial eyes for blind people, robotic exoskeletons that help people walk again (as well as baggage handlers at airports to lift more safely), and nanobots that are injected into the spine to help overcome previously untreatable spinal cord damage. The students, from years 8-10, used Micro:Bit technology to come up with some novel ideas to provide pain relief. Kavita Kapoor, a leading technologist and CORE trustee, said, “we’re really excited to be working with the BBC’s empowering Micro:Bit technology, which gives every kid the chance to use key technology to change their environment.” Micro:bit is a great pairing for CORE, as we share the central aims of wanting to provide fair access to all sectors of society, and to empower people by enabling them to make the most of life.
The kids certainly rose to the challenge set to them. Under the guidance of experts Anne, Kavita, and our skilled volunteers, the teams raced against the clock to create applications using Scratch, WordPress and Blockly to stimulate people into healthier habits. Some of ideas developed included:
- An app that monitored excessive movements suggesting increased stress levels, which then vibrated soothingly and informed the user to take deep breaths.
- An app that used sensors to measure back and shoulder levels, which buzzed every time the user began to slump.
- An app that gave exercise advice; if the user didn’t achieve agreed levels it would automatically donate money to charity from their account.
- A device that monitored pain levels with a simple tap, which was linked to an osteopath. If pain levels were getting too high, the osteopath could provide expert advice through the app.
One year 8 student said “It was really fun! I want to work in some sort of technology department as I find it really interesting.” Another commented, “I personally think that people who actually take part in this work shop will most likely be motivated to study technology in the future. It opens your GCSE options.” The children clearly benefited from the opportunity to explore technology in a functional setting, and were readily creative with their solutions to the problems we gave them.
Our director Danny Orchard took part in both events, and was pleased to see so many young people getting involved and sharing the message that pain and stress need to be spoken about more. After his talk on stress and chronic pain, he was shocked to see that nearly half the children suffered from back pain. “It really emphasises the need for our clinic – pain affects people of all ages. CORE is about providing pain prevention for everyone. By running this hack day, we hope to raise their awareness of the problem of chronic pain, and inspire the next generation to focus on the same mission.”
Once renovations on our flagship Clapton clinic are complete, we hope to stage regular community and learning events to help inspire people to take their health into their own hands, and the Technology in Health Day was the perfect start. Do you have an idea for a community event? Is there something you’d like to learn more about? Leave a suggestion in the comments, and we’ll try to make it a reality.