TechNExt 2024 - Day Four

TechNExt 2024 - Day Four

Main Stage

Welcome - Jamie Hardesty

Jaime welcomed people to the Main Stage Conference of TechNExt 2024 which is a five-day conference across the region to put the North East on the map and celebrate what is going on in the sector and the theme this year is Tech for Purpose. Ways and means of making ourselves more fairer and greener and make the North East a better place, when reading about Tech it may not be tech for purpose and here we have people innovating with ideas to inspire us.

The Future of You - Tracey Follows

Opening up our minds on tech trends and societal change and there is a lot going on with Geography, Demography, Scarcity and Anxiety. We are welcoming in a multi polarity and all this is going to bring in, we have a hugely aging population, we are have a lot of things that younger generations are fearful of and seem to be in a continual state of anxiety and fear and in a new world where we thought we had abundant resources but are now in age of new scarcity and premium price but look at water being the next scarce resource.

It is not just things are changing but that the very nature of change itself is changing. It is a time of chaos change and complexity, but this notion of change changing is partly driven through technology as we are a technology fused society. Need to think about our changing values of a society with new changing values coming through. We in traditional societies we looked up to authority and a sense of conformity and security was important and you would follow the rules, after two world wars and into a modern era we pursued ambitions and things we more about belonging and individuality there was also competition with brands being born. In post-modern era where we are finding meaning, having shared values and social impact was important with empowerment and community and all about finding meaning.

We are getting into a new era due to decentralisation, what is the biggest property of the internet is that it is a network. Post war society there where hierarchical and linear institutions but these can't cope in a modern society and a network system is emerging. It is flat and peer-to-peer and can have a network but can do different things together and decide where you want to go and what you want to pursue but it makes for a society that people find hard to make sense of as there is no official narrative and people have different resonance with the truth. Our values are changing and trying to make sense of what is going on and you need to be adaptable there will also be more activism.

Recentralisation of institutions to claw back power is happening more with movement without progress. Work as a Network workplace to work life where people not wanting to go back to office or hybrid such as Apple and where in working there are generational tensions. People have already made their relationships and already on their career ladder although it is less like this now. An older generation were found to be bemoaning that younger generation were lazy for only coming in 9 to 5 and go out for lunch but younger generation complained about older generation being so lazy because they always come to them for technology and don't make any effort to learn new technologies. There is a lot you can do in a group about one making misunderstandings of the other.

There is a generation who don't see work as productivity but instead a future workspace is an ethical workspace. Can have decentralised autonomous organisations where don't need a hierarchical structure where those most engaged have most say and gain governance tokens which gives them more opportunity to make decisions. Adaptability quotient is where can't be rigid have to be flexible so where every change proposal is accompanied by several alternatives and surfaces a more varied and powerful set of moves and fosters cognitive diversity and organisational flexibility, so companies need to be more adaptable, when have new recruit going into a new organisation we don't want to know what happened in the past but the possibilities in the future.

Productivity where Microsoft employees said they were more productive from home but generally employee engagement has dropped and those working from home feel less connected and more likely to quit their job, maybe as they feel less connected to their employer. Performance in the cognitive age is going to be measured with technology. What if tech that will change our lives is already inside of us, our brains and what if could monitor your brain and where can boost productivity and happiness with things like thinking instead of typing by harnessing the power of the human brain such as with what Neurable where technology works with us not against us and building it into devices we work with every day.

Fit-Bits for the brain where can alert someone they are about to fail a task before that happens, understanding a person's focus and when you are distracted, brain tech is expected to reach a value of $21 billion and will have a lot of technology under cognitive health. There are things in place to have mental privacy, but personal productivity will go tech enabled. Liminal Living is a virtual value in an avatar economy, virtual gaming and virtual worlds are people buying things that don't exist from people who don't own them. Verifiable credentials that allow you to have some ownership of digital goods and are now able to think about the virtual value and ownership as without that there won't be any commerce or opportunity for brands to do anything.

Building worlds and values they want to see in something like Roblox and when build those worlds find real world difficult to deal with as you have architected your own. The CEO of Roblox mentioned that adults will form real-life relationships in dating experiences on the platform in the next few years. The space between physical and digital realities with spatial computing but it doesn't matter about the headset, but the point is creating this liminal world such as with Apple Vision Pro where apps live in your space, and they come to you. In liminal space we will have things like virtual customer service agents and virtual beings that often are treated as real people by many, they can have narratives and background about them.

Fake realities and real fakes and can have chat bots that look and sound like real people, how will we know what is real and authenticity is dead in the digital world. This is world of fakes and real fakes, and we don't really know yet where it is going, you can create any version of yourself. AI assistance is agentification and collaboration where people don't think about things as a chatbot but as a person. With generative AI whatever you can imagine you can image by generating reality and the world itself is changing you can even get AI to write a prompt for an AI. There will be a world of personal agents and personal AI and this AI will take on your tone of voice and represent and re-present you so could be in multiple meetings at the same time and allow people to meet up with different versions of ourselves and give us a new perspective on the world and access a bit of the world we can't and give us a richer more complex view of the world.

Artificial Identity will be everyone having this personal intelligence where will be represented by AI and there will be AI everywhere. You can have AI that is very clear that it is and have a set a values that you may disagree with, our values are changing and were taught them from doing but now will be through AI. You will have your own values and will be very interesting and different from where we have got values from before. We can use personal agents in a social context, you can make interferences from how social agents interact, react and plan so could use them to see how they behave, and they pass information between each other and can use them as human proxies,

New Skill will be copiloting, not in the Microsoft sense, as we had to learn new skills when the internet came along or when mobile came along to connect with new communities and with now in the world of AI, we have decentralised distributed skills which will be a completely new way of working. It is about Co-piloting, which is how humans and AI will work together, we are used to being in a group of people in a team but what we don't know how we can work with AI and how AI can work with us so this will be the biggest skill we will need to have in the future.

Prototype Life - Jude Pullen

As a parent you start to reappraise life and as we reflect on the skills of modelling things. They were encouraged to do science, but they also did ceramics and then later retrained in product design engineering as a product designer, and they also worked with other designers on a show for the BBC and they were also a directional designer for LEGO and this forged their understanding to explore and simplify new things.

There are no barriers, silos or disciplines but connections, collaborations and communities. They work on things with their son to make sense of what is happening around them. It is about unlearning and prototyping life. How prototyping can change lives where someone who wanted to be a hairdresser but one of their hands didn't form correctly so found it hard to hold hair with enough tension or even struggle to cut their own food and didn't want people to judge them before they get to know them. Jude helped develop a prototype of something that would help them to cut hair just as they wanted.

Design should not be this privileged elitist art but should be accessible, you can document what is needed and understand that. They've also looked at building prosthetics so make sure these won't cause harm to the user and could be inspired by something such as something that would pinch the hair by moving in the same way as a shaver when it runs low. Then working through the prototypes and going through process and then working with more specific designers along with finding what was and wasn't working and make sure test and understanding perspectives.

Biggest shift is not talking about limitations but how can you think beyond the narrowness of initial brief and can use all these different tools and do more than hands can do on their own and where others would want something that would have wider applications for anyone, so can design for one and expand beyond that individual's sphere. The bigger thing can be the self believe and confidence that can be gained from doing something like that.

Best companies when innovate are ones who say they don't know the start, design with not for people and extreme or fringe are transient things, what is weird today will be normal tomorrow. Most resilient companies that understand discomfort and uncertainty come before a breakthrough.

They built something called RadioGlobe that allowed them to play radio stations across the globe using things like rotary encoders to make an easy-to-use way to pick many news and music stations from around the world. It was realised by a collection of other people, and they started with simple tools and can keep iterating and innovating and was part of a push to use single board computers and helping making it easier to understand what it could do. You can have an efficiency with collaborating digitally they also put it on Instructables where it got a lot of attention along with awards and even listed as a world-changing idea by FastCompany and described as being beautiful and inspiring by helping people lose their fear by tacking a new project and lots of people around the world were building them. Open Source allows remixing so when push idea out of the world and let people do their own thing and remixing and had a user interface that is easy to use but making things easy to use and intuitive.

Prototyping outside your organisation and confort zone will allow you to lean more and faster and allow you to have more fun and open source or community engagement is commercially strategic and you can prototype the future you want to be seen in.

Air Quality monitors where the point isn't the number but what does that mean in reality. Over 10% of deaths worldwide are caused by poor air quality. Switch out sensors for air quality depending on what environment you are in and built something which was friendly and were able to be good enough to get some interesting facts. Bringing in the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine where someone modified this with an oxygen cylinder so it would revive the canary. Need to apply same tools to the ethics and need to ponder those questions as technologists. The Good Air Canary used a canary model to show air quality instead to make it easier to understand and make engineers care with best sensors and make general public care with metaphor that was easy to grasp. So when underhand metaphor that gives a frame of reference for the more technical side. It is important to not fill things with jargon and make them easy to understand. Narrative changes a lot with outdoor and indoor air pollution and then high CO2 indoors is detrimental to creativity and cognitive functions.

Technology's Role in Shaping Dementia Care and Beyond - David Grey

About shaping what dementia care looks like. Dementia is a syndrome where it manifests itself in a number of different ways such as memory loss, apathy and lack of judgement with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. Apathy is frustration where people aren't able to do things they were able to do and for lack of judgement is when out and forget to look both ways when crossing the road. There are over 700,00 people who are unpaid dementia carers in the UK and the cost of dementia for the UK is £42 billion and within 25 years the number of people aged over 85 will double, who are the most likely people do develop dementia.

Unpaid carers spend 1.1 billon hours and over 40% have not had a break in a year and the threshold for leaving employment is over 10 hours and for example David is his grandmother's primary carer. Historical tech solutions include Japan which has oldest population in the world and there was a Wakamaru robot developed to assist older adults with web cam for remote monitoring and speech recognition software and built-in dictionary to provide the robot's vocabulary but showed dedication to use technology to help older adults.

Foundational tech to assist people already exists but the tooling to really use this is really lacking. For example, David gave his grandmother a fit bit and helped them get out and they heard some music which she was able to know so got them an Amazon Alexa where could listen to music and then could use Amazon Alexa to remind them to charge the fit bit which is something they would forget to do. David developer GG Care to help those with dementia to build and hold routines to help remind where things are and also remind people of tasks and help tasks be completed with questions and prompts along with medication and other things as well as helping to remain socially connected.

Also helped developer interactive reminders via phone calls after doing a test bed for next iteration to use chat bot functionality from Amazon Alexa for a technology that older people have which was a landline telephone to incorporate that technology. This made it more inclusive and less dependent on internet connectivity and less reliant on Amazon. They won a UK innovate grant to help get this off the ground. Carers don't have a lot of information on how tech can help them in their care, so they made a clone of themselves as an avatar with interactive video content for help and also helped with revenue source from companies wanting avatars too for onboarding and other experiences.

They have a care coordination tool in progress which allows carers to solicit help from loved ones where primary carer can invite others for a support network and support network member can accept a request and get a calendar invite and primary carer gets an alert when the task is completed.

Can also use smart sensors to know what movement his grandmother has in her home and know when had something to eat from fridge when it has been opened or have had a cup of tea and a water sensor to know when a tap has been left running. Use a variety of heath technology such as smart scale and sleep sensing pad to know number of times his grandmother gets up so could get indications of things and smart lights to manage circadian rhythms to know when to go to bed and not sit in the dark all day. The real magic is when these devices are combined such as a pill dispenser where wouldn't know if were actually taking it so can combine with data from motion sensor at same time.

Outdoor cameras are also useful which provides a level of security and also people with dementia have a tendency to wander so would get alerted of this and also monitor the support his grandmother is getting, often was finding some people were not staying for the time they were supposed to so helped maintain a level of service for her.

AI will be playing a deepening role in the future of care, there are a number of research projects, so could have facial screening as dementia manifests in someone's physical appearance and could also do natural language processing to create those reminders already but if having this virtual communication should be able to tell from pattern of speech and vocabulary if there is a significant decline in cognitive function. If there is a change in routine in person can see if it is something that needs to be investigation or expedite delivery of new medication using AI and AI models.

Indoor cameras lack the privacy that people are accustomed to so could have a intrusive real scene of what is happening but could have a non-intrusive view and just show the limbs, torso and body and can get more data from that approach and be less intrusive and can calculate using AI if there is an issue such as the person is on the floor. Also could indicate if someone is eating by showing hands going to mouth repeatability is an indication they are eating without being intrusive.

Virtual Reality can help with reminiscence therapy helps improve and reduce anxiety with nostalgia or be immersed in another new place or is more comfortable for them or facilitate social interaction virtually. VR is being used most for staff training to train carers to know what dementia is and see things from their point of view.

Once of issues with dementia is lack of judgement so personal finance is a key element where such as with Sibstar where carer can manage accounts, set limits and where money can be taken out or stop money being taken over the phone and get real-time notifications of when the card is being used but still allow them to keep their independence.

There are a number of obstacles about implemented technology in care which is funding where not used to paying care, but it not covered by NHS but by local authorities and can't often pay for experimental technology and for investment it is important to test which is expensive making it hard to get tech into care. Getting people to try your product is difficult and then regulatory landscape with tech in care is a bit of an unknown but often using technology from others helps but can also add extra requirements.

National Innovation Centre for Aging enables consulting expertise with data and insights with experience and design support and help alleviate obstacles and help design tests and user interfaces with a different set of tools including horizoning to see when technology is going in the future.

The world is growing older, and the future of care will be technology let and there are surmountable obstacles in the way.

Child Labour Index: How is HACE using technology to eradicate child labour in global supply chains? - Eleanor Harry

How many children are in child labour globally today? 1 in 10 children globally is 160 million aged 5 - 17 are in child labour. It is huge and isn't a problem talked about often, but it is a large problem and children work in many different ways. Child labour is in develop work and economic growth sustainable development goals. There is a target to end child labour in all forms in 2025 with only a few goals ending then so is a severe issue to be resolved.

Four children every second need to be remediated from child labour to hit that target, so to achieve that goal is something we're not thinking about. There has been a huge reduction of children but in 2020 there was an increase in child labour again up to 160 million and 79 million of those work in hazardous conditions and is a type of work that interferes with their wellbeing and schoolwork. 89 million of those in child labour are under the age of 12 which is categorically illegal. Eleanor was working on environmental issues but then worked on looking into child labour in cotton picking where as young as two-year-olds were working in the cotton industry and then other types of working conditions children were in each of which the worst thing they had ever heard about.

Think of child labour as being part of modern slavery but they are not categorised together, but they do overlap as not all child labour is forced. The data issue is for example child labour got worse throughout the pandemic and need to scale our understanding of the issue. How do you merge technology together, but it is difficult as most data on child labour doesn't exist and most of how it is reported it is on a household basis only every few years. There is issues with completeness with 5 to 17 included but there is evidence of those from 0 to 5 working and timeliness of the data is an issue as it is published years after it is collected and there is lack of standardisation and there are bias and inequalities. Data is often estimated or modelled using unverified proxies such as only being poverty which is many complex things itself. Companies have incredibly complex supply chains that focus on top tiers rather than bottom tiers.

Child labour is a hidden problem that devalues companies but there are two resources that can resolve the data issues which is technology and shareholder pressure. You don't have to listen to anyone talking about child labour but there is one group they have to listen to is shareholders. Child labour has a strong brand and reputational risk for companies can be significant and severe, for example a company was found to have hundreds and thousands of children working for them in the United States and the share price fell through the floor when this was uncovered along with investors being named too. As an investor these issues are a big problem so shareholders understand risk and what it looks like to be stung so engaging investors is key. There is a lot of influence is enormous so this is how you can help promote change but as individuals you pay into an investment or similar and these assets are managed for those funds and choose companies they invest in so individuals own those companies and can have a two-fold approach on how can influence companies and have a responsibility to consider issues of child labour or others like climate change, so only invest in companies that have good practices there.

There isn't a way for how companies can measure child labour impact but it is that big nebulous thing that can't be quantified into one metric so HACE provide a child labour index built with transparency and they have data on top listed companies updated every fifteen minutes with comprehensive data on company-specific risks including governance frameworks. They provide an overall child labour index which is an aggregate of metrics including public perception and measure association using techniques such as news for a company's potential association with child labour and deliver every fifteen minutes. Second metric is supply chain is how vulnerable or susceptible their supply change is based on their sub-industry, they aren't able to go to the bottom level but can identify potential risk and the final factor is company disclosure is how well companies are identifying or managing and remediating their child labour risks so are they being proactive or reactive and get this information from company documentation in different languages that are potentially in this area and use rules-based algorithms on how well they think companies are governing that specific risk and as soon as something changes an investor can be alerted.

Their technology is that their index uses public data points and proprietary data sets build on their social science expertise and they leverage technology to develop objective rule-based algorithms and trace things back to their data source and using technology allows the index to be scaled quickly, safely and accurately. They are subject matter experts and are fully transparent and try to remove human bias from the process.

Fireside Chat: Leading the future of dexterous robotics in agriculture - Atif Syed, Jesse Opoku & Jamie Hardesty

Dr Atif Syed is a founder, inventor and CEO at Wootzano and Dr Jesse Opoku is COO at Wootzano and they build robots!

How did the company come about?

Atif mentioned Wootzano came about in 2018 in Scotland and then moved everything to North East six month later and was vision to build electronic skin with human like sensitivity for robots with point of touch feedback which is important. They did also wind turbine maintenance and repair robots on turbine blades as well as nuclear power plants. They then looked in agricultural industry and parts of market that people who weren't looking with post-service and were able to achieve quite a lot in an industry that genuinely needed automation. Asif mentioned repetitive tasks need dexterity which is one of the main spots they focus on for the ability for robots to manipulate objects and give robots human like intuition for recognising fruits and vegetables.

What do they do in the North East?

Atif mentioned moving to North East for opportunities to scale up electronic skin product and low cost of land and available skilled workforce to get where they are and needed lots of space and we have lots of affordable space with a huge history of engineering work in the North East. They are fully in the North East and ship to six countries in the world.

What drew you to the company?

Jeese was drawn in by electronic skin after meeting Atif in Durham and later became COO of Wootzano.

Where they are going and what they want to achieve and what is next?

They are automating more things such as herbs and spices and chillies along with grapes and avocadoes, they can do any fruit and vegetable to automate the supply chain from seed to consumer and look at customer needs and build things to fulfil these needs and the robots are priced the same per hour as a human worker.

What is the talent here that can help?

Atif mentioned we do lack skilled labour in deep technologies and struggle to find them across the UK so look across the world but will work with students locally from local Universities and have that ecosystem to be creative but do struggle getting skilled people.

How cost efficient is it?

Jesse mentioned main understanding is they get to know customers and know their pain points and labour is an issue as prices are rising as they will find people to bring in, so they provide a solution to bridge those gaps and develop solutions to make sure they don't lose as more of their business. Atif mentioned that they aren't going away with millions of capital expenditure but they can go for the same cost as a worker and get a robot instead as these industries work on low margins, but they have money to pay people, so they pay the money they have already.

Does being in the North East surprise people or hold them back?

Atif mentioned that people are surprised they are based here but what they tell everyone is there is a massive opportunity in region, the North East is like a startup and is in a growth phase, you can give higher quality of life compared to London and hire good people and if love robotics you'd want to work there and one of the only in world providing these robotic solutions.

Who are their potential competitors?

Atif said They have over 55 patents to cover their technology and for commercial use no one is doing anything with post-harvest role, but humans can do that but they can be hard to find.

Are they seeing hearts and minds changing about North East?

Atif said there is a struggle, and they held an event where they invited customers from different countries with over 250 people coming and they mentioned why didn't they hold it in London, but people wouldn't know what this region is like until they come here.

How did they raise capital?

They didn't raise much capital and had grants and had revenue in the business and did raise from angels in early days and did take some VC funding, but the business was well established allowing them better terms. We don't have many North East or even UK based investors and for any manufacturer focused VCs are rarer as it is deemed risky but the rewards are higher.

What can the North East do to keep them here as they continue to expand?

Atif mentioned it would be great to remain in the North East, this is their adopted region and they go out and speak about what is happening here and they have just made investment to continue to grow here. There is eagerness from government and academia makes it easier along with things like TechNExt.

Is there anything that can be proactively done for talent?

Jesse mentioned working with local universities and taking interns and do STEM activities with primary and secondary schools to change that mindset and build these choices. Atif mentioned they need people to build and maintain the robots and they are trying to fill the skill gap by working with educators and others.

You have an idea... what next? - Avril Chester

Avril is a CTO for Royal Pharmaceutical Society and was founder of Cancer Central and have stumbled through a few things. You might have a new idea and what is next and what should you do?

Lesson One

Are you a true believer in your idea, of course you are you have had the idea, they come from experience, great ideas come from ideas. They stumbled across this need with Cancer Central where they knew with cancer they would lose their hair so went to hat shop to find something and tried to search for something but couldn't find a hat shop near them, they wanted to go out and do something, then realised that if you do that you meet people on your journey and if you do you learn something. With one organisation they give you a gift of a memory with donations and was something they found out from someone who happened to say something. Products and services both local and national exist but how to you better connect people to them so found their need and was bothering them so they decided to do it themselves and create their own startup, Cancer Central.

There were many things they didn't know but they went out and wanted to do it and the reason they wanted to do it to connect people to bits and pieces including getting through various issues with Cancer. It took them four years to get to a succinct piece for their elevator pitch so don't stifle idea just because you can't do that as it will come to you - become the go to place to find cancer information and support. It is not just about that elevator pitch but also need to think what will fuel you when you hit rock bottom. They built this thing collectively, but people seemed to believe in them but were looking at all their can'ts. When are a true believer is when you are really low do you still believe in your idea and that purpose will fuel you.

They felt an utter failure when they didn't know how to move forward, where to go next and who to ask, everyone things you're doing well but needed a sign that they were supposed to what they are doing and are they supposed to continue so they decided to get one action out of the way one day then next day go for a walk and think you'll get a call to spur you on or looking for that sign, they attended an event and they won award which was HealthTech Innovation of the Year from Maggie Philbin but only a few days before were crying their eyes out. To move forward you have to believe, and you need to pick yourself up and believe in your idea.

Lesson Two

The f-word - funding, finance and need think about how will your idea sustain itself, but the idea is great and know need to do it but is why it is called the f-word. People take different paths, and they aren't a funding expert, when putting ethics into a business makes it harder. When they started, they were going to be a not for profit and looked at all the structures but didn't want o be a charity and take anything away from those delivering the support so became a CIC or social enterprise and have an asset lock and prove not trying to take away money and deliver the purpose. They found that through timing people were donating money to them and then they were getting more donations.

When you reflect back on product and experimentation their biggest funding was donations so they changed from CIC to charity, you should get started and have picked wrong legal structure that doesn't matter as you are learning all the time and if your organisation is doing something completely different then it is okay to change that too, need to learn and change and not be afraid as it was a lot of learning as it didn't occur to them to be a charity but they needed to become one.

By the time they changed to a charity they have over 65,000 donated hours from companies based on what people were doing in their spare time and understand your revenue models and if pick a legal structure it is okay to change it.

Lesson Three

Let it go! Conversations grow when you let it go, they mean by this was right at the start have got a concept and not sure what to do have advisors, friends and colleagues to share your idea, you need to road test it and do you really believe in it if you can't explain it. They had that vision to build Cancer Central and had no idea what they were doing but they asked what to do and someone suggested they do a hackathon where they had this idea where companies and people had turned up and were taking idea and ballooning it. They suggested a chat bot conversation like "I'm going into chemo what do I need". One of the companies involved mentioned they would build their minimal viable product but told them they didn't have any money, but they would build it for them, another company said they were test it without needing any money either.

They went through three iterations trying different technologies such as bits and pieces all though donated hours of work for a few hundred organisations over six years. If they needed something they could ask got donated from code to legal and finance where everything was donated by asking and saying they knew it was needed. Last year they were approached by Cancer Awareness Trust who wanted to work with them in a collaboration, they had been trying to do collaborations before by approaching organisations, but someone approached them. The need was to pull together an advisory panel of top oncologists and have philanthropists building up money and loved what they were doing and wanted to collaborate globally. They wanted to make sure weren't emotionally invested in it and did due diligence and set up the Cancer Platform and wanted to make sure do right by the people they serve and transferred everything over and had people who will turbo charge this. When talking about IP in their day job they deliver medicine information and membership for pharmacists but IP for clinical safety is important but for them they just wanted to build something for people to find cancer information and support and that purpose let to talking about it.

Sometimes feels like there is too much advice but it is just advice it is your company, your product and is about where you want to take it and a trust in your own path. Through covid they supported a million enquiries so when it came to too much advice what do you do is to listen to yourself, something will happen, ask for a sign and they happen. Talk to people, let it go, believe in your idea, don't be afraid to change your legal structure and most important of all let it go!

Bringing Performance into Focus - Patricia Rodrigues

Game predictions will Denmark beat England and will Portugal win Euro 2024? It is so much more than football behind football. Be visionary and game changers! How many players have you seen playing with glasses? Seeing is so much more than visibility. Who believes they have good vision and seeing well is different is good vision. Someone can see well but have poor vision or have undeveloped vision even though have 20:20 vision.

Knowledge is power, in any area of expertise and if you know that you can be a game changer and have not only have good vision but be a visionary to change your life in work. Why vision is different from seeing well and how technology is part of that. Which foot do you kick with? It would your right foot mostly or left foot, so you know what your dominant foot is. If you were going to autograph the ball is mostly right and fewer with their left hand. Which eye are you look with - you are with one eye but won't know which, so you can make a small triangle with hands down then lift them up and then close an eye to see which is your dominant eye you are looking at the ball with.

Knowledge is power and so is technology. So today you need to be visionaries. We use technology to collect information to train technology, there is information in knowledge, you can from one picture see how far someone can see and can find out vision from a athlete is in different conditions so if you know where to train you know where to develop. Technology is the future of sports training - we need this technology and is not just in future, the future is now and in the present. We can simulate environments and it is possible to drive a virtual car with your brain by using neuroscience with technology. In any sport or age group technology is an advantage for performance.

One thing that is important is time, time is previous, if can see the number on the ball if it is shown quickly is hard to see but if for longer is easier to see which was 1966 which was when England won the World Cup. You can measure how long it takes for an athlete to see something and can use measuring with technology and can train the brain to process less information and be faster to interpret these. Imagine the difference in milliseconds to reduce the car accident rate by applying this technology to general population and athletes have reaction of 250 milliseconds and for accidents can be 4 to 5 seconds to react so with technology how many deaths can be prevented.

Looking is different from seeing. What was colour of car in front or colour of shoes of person next to you or what logo was on the ball when they were asking that question. How can you train things if the brain doesn't process everything you can see and can train using Virtual Reality to simulate what to see, when to see and how to see it as if brain processes everything you see you will burn out so it needs to choose what is relevant and what to filter out so need to train it to improve performance and can also help recover as it is a game changer for injury rehab and can train areas of brain responsible for motor response and for this we need technology.

Imagine the impact on medical recovery or forensic aid for the visual memory of all witnesses, if we create some technology we can search for this information or train a brain for this information. How many lives can be recovered better and for the long term. Keep your eye on the ball and when did the ball move, how many times you need to see the ball to come from their hands needs 250 milliseconds to react to something you have seen. Brain knows how to anticipate life in every situation in life, you can use technology to train this path inside our brain to slow the game down. We can train minds of athletes to see the game much slower and anticipate better and that is why you need to anticipate life. What is your next vision and how can you have better performance. Anticipate the next move in your area, be a visionary, be a game changer and create the next technology that will revolutionise the whole world, you just need to believe.

Festival Party

It had been an amazing week of events from Day One with Digital Transformation: Leveraging Tech for Business Growth and Demystifying AI: Navigating the Challenges & Unlocking Business Value that I attended along with many other amazing events others were part of that I wasn't able to attend. Day Two of TechNExt was also full of amazing events but there was also another amazing event which was the Startup Awards North East 2024 which attended featured amazing pitches from fantastic skill ups, start ups and scale ups. On Day Three I attended Ignite North East 2024 - Pre-Accelerator Showcase with more amazing pitches for those part of Ignite's Pre-Accelerator with some familiar faces pitching on stage and Don't Look, Just Liste was a preview of an amazing immersive audio experience coming soon showcased at the amazing Advanced Media Production facility at Proto in Gateshead, my first time being there!

Day Four saw the Main Stage event hosted by Jamie Hardesty, who is always great to catch up with and spent some of lunch time together whose passion and drive to showcase the North East Tech scene including the amazing Newcastle Tech Digest as well as his own amazing articles for The QT are fantastic. After the Main Stage it was time for the Festival Party at Revolution de Cuba. It was fantastic to go along to speak to those I'd met at the events for the first time and see them again there or many familiar faces I'd met through other events. The England vs Denmark game was playing first, and it turned out the question from Patricia Rodrigues about who would win was answered with neither, but as of this Article it remains to be seen how well Portugal will do in Euro 2024 in Germany! It was also fantastic to catch up with people I'd not seen for many years including those I regularly attended events alongside in the past, and those who have been pivotal to where the North East tech scene is today. It was an opportunity for everyone there to celebrate this second TechNExt and I was pleased to make more events after missing out on much of last year's inaugural TechNExt.

It has been an amazing week and to write about all the events that have been going on as been fantastic so that more people can be aware of the vibrant tech scene we have in the North East that TechNExt has been instrumental in showcasing and something I look forward to next year but hopefully be able to participate in myself in some way too. We should be rightly proud of what we have achieved here in the North East and for those who've yet to see what we have to offer then get yourselves here to places like Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham for TechNExt 2025 and I'll hopefully see you there!