Building things for other people

24th April 2015

There’s a lot of talk about Slack this week. A $2.8 Billion valuation is going to turn a few heads and strike up some conversations – no doubt via the tech-friendly communication tool itself. Slack is a good example of a tool that is built by software engineers for software engineers. That’s fine, of course. But the tech industry needs to be wary of limiting its scope by catering solely to its own demographic. Trendy young people making things for trendy young people is not necessarily the best road to wider social benefit. This problem is especially prevalent within the IoT space; the majority of work is to cater for the tech savvy keen to gadgetise their homes.

Luckily there are plenty of companies and projects that buck this trend and also deliver something useful and important.

The Wayfindr project is a collaboration between global digital product studio ustwo and the RLSB Youth Forum. The ambition of the wayfindr project is to guide users using smartphones and Bluetooth Low Energy technology. The user’s location is mapped on their own device, with spoken directions transmitted via bone conducting earphones.

Aparito is a social enterprise that are using a smart phone app paired with wearable tech to offer passive and continuous monitoring of patients – replacing the need for long, painful and invasive hospital tests. The app also allows for additional data input by the patient / carer with a focus on quality of life related questions.

Memrica Prompt is a smartphone and tablet app that reminds people about names, events, places and everyday tasks. It recognises family, friends and people important to the user as well as triggering ‘how to’ guides. A smart reminder service collates data, image and sound files to ensure everything needed for a task, event or appointment is available in one place.

Nominet R&D are interested in problems which are in the public interest to solve. We’re already working to help people whose homes are at risk of flooding and we’ll be talking soon about other research activities to help vulnerable demographics.

The above projects and companies are good examples that if the tech community looks outside of its own demographic amazing things can happen.

Read more on our blog here.