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Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 9 January 2018

Podcast: Technology for Good

The second of three csuite podcasts from Microsoft’s Future Decoded, in this episode, Russell Goldsmith spoke with guests on topics relating to the use of Technology For Good including Haiyan Zhang, Innovation Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, Former Manchester United & England Footballer and now Founder of UA92, Gary Neville and Aaron Powell, Chief Digital Officer at NHS Blood and Transplant.

Part 1 - HAIYAN ZHANG, INNOVATION DIRECTOR AT MICROSOFT RESEARCH CAMBRIDGE

Russell Goldsmith's first guest was Haiyan Zhang who recently created a life-changing device to help people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease under the project name, Project Emma, named after Emma Lawton, a creative director and graphic designer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 28, causing her to lose the ability to write and draw because of the tremors in her hands that are caused by the disease.  

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Chatting with Haiyan Zhang of Microsoft Research Cambridge

Haiyan felt that something to do with vibration might be able to help Emma by distracting her brain from the tremors themselves. She built a number of prototypes of a wearable device, like a watch strap, which vibrates at different frequencies and different patterns, that Emma can control using an app on her tablet device, and through these vibrations, Emma has now been able to hold a pen and write and draw again.

Haiyan’s team are now undertaking studies to see if this technology can work for other patients as each Parkinson’s sufferer may have individualised symptoms

For more information, please visit the Microsoft Research Lab, Cambridge website

Part 2 - GARY NEVILLE & CRAIG PARKER - SKILLS DEVELOPMENT FOR THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Microsoft’s Education Partner Lead, Craig Parker and Former Manchester United and England Footballer, Gary Neville spoke to Russell about University Academy 92 (UA92), a new University Gary is aiming to launch near Old Trafford, Greater Manchester.

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Russell chats with Gary Neville (middle) and Microsoft’s Craig Parker

Gary is working on the project with Professor Amanda Broderick, Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle University London and together they listed character traits they thought you would want your child to have from the age of 18-21, which included:

  • Leadership
  • Being able to analyse themselves or others
  • Having good life skills (perhaps around a charity project)
  • International Experience
  • Be able to handle themselves
  • Presenting themselves to an audience
  • Becoming a rounded individual ready for employment

They then started to think how those traits could become the heart of an education project, rather than it just being about getting the degree.  With some seed investment they engaged with Lancaster University and corporate partners such as Microsoft, who they’ve been working with for the last 12 months, co-designing the curricular with industry.

UA92 aim to open their university in September 2019 and students can expect, first and foremost, a credible degree.  Following that, Gary wants students to expect to be able to get a good job after they graduate that’s suitable and stimulates them every morning. 

For more information, please visit www.ua92.ac.uk

Part 3 - NHS BLOOD AND TRANSPLANT – DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY

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Chatting with NHS Blood and Transplant‘s Aaron Powell (right)

Aaron Powell, Chief Digital Officer at NHS Blood and Transplant said that technology is helping to transform the way they save and improve patients’ lives.  He explained that their job is to provide a safe and reliable supply of blood to hospitals in England and to manage the organ donation and transplantation system in the UK and that technology enables them to connect their services and process better as well as the data they hold. It also allows the personalisation of services that are offered to donors.

They use the power of Microsoft Azure to manage their appointment booking system, which allows them to make around 139,000 blood donation appointments each month.  They also use Dynamics CRM to manage the transplant waiting list, which ensures the clinicians making decisions as to whether to accept an organ for transplant have the information that they need at their fingertips. 

To become a blood donor, please visit www.blood.co.uk or download the app from Google Play or the App Store.  To register an organ donor, please visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 1232323 for either of the above.

Part 4 - HECTOR MINTO, MICROSOFT’S ACCESSIBILITY EVANGELIST FOR EMEA & ANDREW COOK, MICROSOFT’S SENIOR PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER FOR FIRSTLINE

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Russell with Andrew Cook (middle) and Hector Minto (right)

Hector and Andrew spoke to Russell about Accessibility.  Hector said that we live in a time of digital transformation, we need to make sure we don’t leave people with disabilities behind. There is a real opportunity to realise the advantages that thinking around disabilities can bring to all businesses and organisations. His blueprint is for Governments with real aims and ambitions for disability and for businesses with drive, who wish to cater for customers with disabilities but also to employ people with disabilities and recognise the diversity and inclusion they bring.

Microsoft has had much success with blind and visually impaired tech as well as those with hearing loss around mobility issues – people with severe mobility issues can type an email using just eye movements. Andrew also talked about Windows Hello, which allows facial recognition to log in and authenticate yourself, bypassing the need for long and complicated passwords.

We also discussed the fact that 2017 was 70th anniversary of National Disability Awareness month in the US, which had the theme of ‘Inclusion Drives Innovation’

Hector explained that Microsoft realised that the recruitment process automatically ruled out certain people. They now proactively employ people with autism into Microsoft, but they had to change the recruitment process to allow this. Instead of a highly stressful interview they now use a workshop system, bringing people in for a week rather than an hour, which allows people to show their best selves.  Hectors view is that if you want to meet a problem solver, meet someone with a disability, they have spent their lives working out how to get through a situation.

All previous shows of the series are available on the website as well as Soundcloud and iTunes.  You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

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