The Mill’s group head of product development Neil Evely headed down to the Wired stage at the Tobacco Dock in London to see a series of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs share their thoughts and theories in the annual Wired UK event – which aims to bring together big industry brains in an attempt to ‘define the future.’
Neil tells us his stand out moments of this year’s conference…
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Wired event for the past 3 years and it’s quickly become two days in my calendar that I very much look forward to. Each year the range of speakers and topics have been hugely varied, some talks are funny & entertaining, many are heartfelt and a few are challenging to follow, but all are engaging and insightful -- and this year was no different.
There was a much more defined theme running through this year’s event, which I hadn’t noticed so strongly in previous years. The focus was much more on alternative thinking rather than inventions or innovative technology, though that’s not to say that this topic wasn't given plenty of air time as well.
Yulia Marushevska:Ukrainian student and activist
We heard from student and activist Yulia Marushevska who talked about her video ‘I am Ukranian’, which went globally viral via YouTube. Yulia share how the small film, shot in the dead of winter at the EuroMaidan protests surrounded by over a million fellow Ukrainians, propelled her to fame across more than 70 media channels and how she has now (reluctantly) become a voice of the Ukrainian people in their fight with Russia.
Pablo Rodriguez, research and innovation director at Telefonica (and Bullipedia alumni), is dedicated to improving the internet's performance. He talked us through his love of Tiki Taka football, made famous by Pep Guardiola and Barcelona and how he is using this close knit way of playing football to help him design faster and more efficient networking strategies in order to deal with big data. Lets hope he’s not seen this. See more on his research here.
Sugata Mitra, who specializes in educational technology at Newcastle University, was a fantastic speaker. He wowed the audience with a talk about how our methods for teaching have not changed for hundreds of years and how he plans to revolutionise the way in which our children learn and develop. He believes that people's fear of technology being an inhibitor to learning is incorrect, and that ‘the internet must be let into the exam room and the whole system will change.’ He goes on to say, ‘A child growing up with a spell checker will make a mistake once, twice and not repeat it.’
Bruce Hood, Suleiman Bakhit and Simon Wheatcroft
Other speakers of note include, Bruce Hood fascinated by the topic of essentialism, (the emotional attachment to inanimate objects) who offered us all a chance to wear a cardigan owned and worn by mass murderer Fred West, which, oddly enough was declined by everyone. Suleiman Bakhit, who promotes heroism as an antidote to extremism in the Middle East via the medium of comic books. Not to mention a hugely impressive gentlemen named Simon Wheatcroft, who is a blind ultramarathon runner, about to embark on a solo run from Boston to New York, follow his progress via twitter @andadapt.
Lastly, a surprise visit from the creative techno pop star, Will.i.am, who swung by to talk about his adventures in the world of technology and innovation, to whom I found myself being oddly engaged with as he spoke about his reluctance to be a spokesperson for a brand without being involved in the original product design, which lead him to get into hardware design. We were fortunate enough to see an exclusive preview of his new ‘smart cuff’ called PULS, a mobile, wearable device that does everything you want from a phone, but without having to partner with a separate device.
Exclusive aside, my personal highlight was the introduction of Zaha Hadid, uber designer and architect extraordinaire (hashtag britains best export), who has partnered with Will.i.am to design some bespoke versions of his PULS, which as far as wearables are concerned, look out of this world.