Nowadays, technology has the power to change the world due to fast improvements and design. Some major companies though, like Amazon and Facebook, have come under fire because of recent scandals involving the treatment of workers and their influence on politics. But a new generation of budding entrepreneurs are trying to use technology for the greater good, and I interviewed one such individual.
Ritam Gandhi owns Studio Graphene which strives to help companies make their services better through technology. One example of this is Langu whereby teachers and students across the globe can connect via a virtual classroom by using WebRTC and Google documents to operate a whiteboard, including video conferencing. Langu is the first online platform where you can learn a language in a fun and accessible way, and it shows Studio Graphene’s determination to support others. This is why Gandhi began a competition called ‘Build My App’ which lets creators think up an app idea with a charitable cause. Last year’s winner was ‘Signalong’ which uses artificial intelligence and Google Vision technologies to help access the app’s sign language database so that people can take photos of everyday things and learn the correct sign for them. Signalong beat more than 65 entries and was built over the course of three days by a team of project managers and designers at TechXLR8 in London.
Gandhi comments on how he was ‘impressed’ by this start-ups idea and that his team were:
‘delighted to have created this mobile solution that will help a huge number of people with communication difficulties.’
‘Based on the positive response we received to this initiative, Studio Graphene will be looking to launch similar projects over the coming months’.
This year, Gandhi has set out to find something unique for the benefit of wider society and I interviewed him by phone to find out his thoughts on technological engagement and the future of the competition.
As young people tend to have less fixed and more forward-thinking ideologies than the previous generations, I asked him what they can learn from the competition. He explained that ‘more awareness is needed and the studio has a quick turnaround, which is not costly’. Young people can be ‘inspired’ to take part in creative ideas.
I then wanted to find out how one specific demographic can be inspired. As the Government push for more young women to be involved in subjects like the sciences and IT, I asked how the competition will help more girls to be involved? His answer was that it’s not just young women who will be more eager to take on big ideas in the tech world, but that individuals from all demographics will have an opportunity to walk through the door they thought was closed. This he argues, ‘impacts’ all groups and will help create more jobs which can benefit the charity sector.
Nevertheless, education is key in getting people to understand the connection between charitable work and technology, so I asked him how this could be initiated. His answer was that:
‘technology can do more to raise awareness as charity work is quite manual, such as doing a lot of admin work. Politicians and the charity sector identify the fact that not enough technology is being used in the charity sector, which can help them deliver their goals. A lot of people can have the chance to use technology for a particular cause but many of them do ask if you can build such an app in a few days? We always assure them that it is just an idea for now and not the be all and end all. We are still restrained by our capabilities’.
The winner of the Build My App competition is an organization called Semble, which aims to support local projects and charities to make a difference in their communities. They do this by connecting them with businesses and people that want to volunteer their time. Examples of their projects include one based in Hackney known as ‘Plastic-Free Hackney’, which consists of a campaign group to tackle plastic waste and circumvent throwaway culture. They want to make Hackney London’s first Plastic Free Community and build more awareness on waste.
Another interesting project is ‘Feed Me Good’ which is a Community Interest Company that provides health and wellbeing services for schools, charities, local councils and housing associations. They help with teaching courses about food hygiene and support both students and clients via consultations and other services. An example of their courses called ‘How to be a Smart Food Shopper’ teaches people to understand how they can improve their knowledge of budgeting when going food shopping, and much more.
‘We are really passionate about creating a safe and fun environment where families and people from all walks of life can come together and build a community. Whereby they can learn new life skills and celebrate food and cultures. We understand the importance of community and how small changes can make a huge impact not only in health and wellbeing but also in being sustainable for the future generations to come’.
Studio Graphene will support Semble to make their service even better to assist more projects and inspire a wider audience.
Learn more about Studio Graphene and Build My App competition here: http://www.studiographene.com/buildmyapp/