Illuminating warm technology
Thank you for your input and interest in the blog last week, some great perspectives and ideas around ‘knowing’.
Today’s blog focuses on the notion that technology has the potential to be warm, not human, but warm. In order to determine what is meant by this, it might be worth exploring the term ‘warm’ within the context of technology.
The key principle behind warm technology is that it doesn’t aim to replace our most basic human needs, such as contact with our loved ones, a feeling of belonging and the desire to feel needed. What warm technology does instead, is harness the plethora of technological advancements to meet these needs, solving an emotional and often completely invisible crisis. (We are Tech Women, 2020)
In order to explain the place and potential warm technology has within society, let’s explore some fascinating examples.
No isolation are a EdTech start-up with a unique vision; to prevent self isolation through technology. They have created two amazing products Komp and AV1. The concept hinges on the global power of local, specifically how we can embrace technology when human contact is not possible.
Bringing communities back together via the online world to recreate that face-to-face contact is a special thing in the absence of the real thing.
The Invisible children report highlights the concerning experiences of children and adolescents who due to long-term illness cannot attend school. This cohort, a statistical group of children has been dubbed the ‘Invisible children’ due to their lack of representation in national data sets.
An unknown number of seriously ill children are slipping through attendance statistics. The methods of record-keeping are inconsistent throughout the UK, and there is no central database keeping record of the actual size of the group. A distressing consequence of this is that the effects of long-term illness are widely unknown, making the problem appear smaller than it actually is.
Digital Solution? AV1 Robot
When a pupil can’t attend class in person, AV1 takes their place. AV1 is the distance learning avatar that makes it possible for children and young adults with long-term illness to take part at school via an app on their phone or tablet.
AV1 can become the child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom. Existing case studies in the UK that utilise AV1 radiate some amazing things!
- Students can access lessons remotely live as they happen. AV1 is the child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom they can’t attend.
- No child is left behind, they can attend every lesson in real time
- Primary students in some settings dress AV1, give it a name and share the responsibility of looking after it, even socialising it.
- Students that are isolated due to illness (long-term, anxiety etc) can connect with their peers via AV1 and interact with learning, conversation and life from the comfort of their home.
In this context, it’s easy to see how technology can connect us in amazing ways. Perhaps, we should be investing in more of these types of tech?
For those who didn’t grow up with it
Can technology be warm on both sides of the digital divide?
COVID-19 has forced isolation for all of us. Interactions when they happen have been forced online for most. The older generation, dubbed ‘digital immigrants’ famously by Prensky (2001) could be feeling more isolated than ever. But, there’s hope for humanity and ironically it’s technology that allows us to interact in a human way without contact.
Social media and the modern ways to communicate can be intimidating to those not accustomed to using it. Komp is a digital solution that requires no prior digital skills from the users, and allows digital children and grandchildren to share photos, messages and make video calls to their analogue grandparents. Komp breaks down the barriers other digital platforms provide and works to connect rather than isolate further.
The Granny Cloud
The Granny Cloud was popularised by Sugata Mitra, a creative thinker who also came up with the hole-in-the-wall and ‘school in the cloud’ concepts.
The Granny Cloud is an independent team of volunteers that reaches out to children with limited educational resources around the globe, in a variety of settings, and provides them with the opportunity to experience worlds far removed from their own. The idea was initiated by Sugata Mitra and is connected to the SOLE approach to learning (self organised learning environment). Armed with an iPad and a lifetime of experience, the ‘Granny’s’ and indeed Grandpa’s impart knowledge in exchange for social interaction.
Members of the Granny Cloud interact with groups of children, engaging them in conversation and in activities of various kinds, such as reading and telling stories, craft activities, solving puzzles and exploring big questions. The role of the Granny includes provoking curiosity, asking questions, listening attentively and providing warm encouragement.
So, what do you think? Can technology radiate warmth to its users. Does this warmth bring robots and specifically technology closer to humans as it serves a basic function of connecting us?
Would you tax these types of Robots?
In the final blog of this series we will look at disruptive and invasive technology – stay tuned!