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Mobile World Congress 2018: Creating a better future through technology

Alyson Edmunds, Head of Digital Innovation at O2, was reporting from Barcelona last week, home of Mobile World Congress 2018.

Tech in Society 

Tech in Society was one of the core themes at this year’s Mobile World Congress which prompted lots of lively debate. The development of connected technologies offers huge potential benefits for society, such as providing solutions for better government, security, transport, health, education, arts, emergency response and the environment.

Having been involved in a number of technology projects at O2 designed to benefit specific groups and communities, I am particularly keen to hear about the impact that emerging technologies at MWC18 might have on society and the environment. I’m also interested to see whether MWC18 fosters a collaborative responsibility for developing solutions that benefit our society as a whole, rather than simply meet individual consumer demand.

K. Pro’s Braille Glove helping to improve the quality of live for deaf-blind people

Last week I saw a number of applications and prototype technologies that aim to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. For example, K. Pro have developed a mobile communication device called the Braille Glove for deaf-blind people that can replace both hearing and voice. The device listens to a voice, translates it into Braille, and delivers it silently to the glove. The glove contains a Braille application that translates and delivers the reply to a smartphone app.

Mouse4all helping more people use everyday apps to stay connected

Some people are becoming digitally excluded because their condition prevents them from being able to touch the screen on a phone or tablet. Mouse4all is an assistive product that allows everyone to use an Android tablet or smartphone, without having to touch the screen. It’s aimed at people with a severe physical disability such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, ALS or neuromuscular disease. Comprising an Android app and a connection box, the touch screen functionality of any app is replaced with switches, a trackball or joystick. It is already helping people who would otherwise be excluded to use every day apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stay connected with friends and family, and to make full use of the internet.

Using AI to help people with Parkinsons disease

AI is also helping the lives of people with Parkinsons disease by allowing the patient to input what mood they are in onto their tablet. The app then suggests music and therapy to enhance their quality of life.

Last week, I saw an innovative use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to treat Parkinson’s disease, the world’s second most widespread neurological disorder. Whilst there is no known cure, the condition can be eased in many patients with complementary methods such as music therapy. The multi-platform PARKINSONS app uses machine learning to personalise music and exercise video recommendations based on each patient’s musical tastes and their physical and emotional state.

O2 ‘s partnership with NSPCC to keep children safe online

Earlier, I mentioned O2’s involvement in a number of technology projects focused on specific communities and audiences. One example is our partnership with the NSPCC, where O2 provides advice, confidential helplines and practical workshops for parents and carers on how to keep children safe online.

We also run NSPCC Net Aware, an online guide on the most popular social networks that kids use, so that parents can stay up to date with the technology they are using.

However O2 is not only focused on national Tech in Society projects. Last year, for example, we teamed up with local Libraries to deliver a secure, managed tablet lending service as part of an ambitious plan to ensure that every Leeds resident has basic digital skills.


This is the third in a series of blogs I have written during Mobile World Congress 2018. Take a look at my previous blogs which look at innovation and digital transformation in business and the in store benefits of AI for the digital consumer, both on the O2 Business Blog.

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