TEDMed 21st April 2014

This week we were excited to have one of our projects featured at the TEDmed event at the Royal Albert Hall in London. There’s something very surreal about seeing the project you’ve been working on, talked about at a televised event on a platform viewed by thousands of people. Suddenly the scope became apparent, and as the audience spontaneously took out their phones to download, we were hit with an overwhelming sense of pride.

What became clear, as we sat there surrounded by professionals and academics, is the amount that’s going on between the tech and medical industries. It would seem that innovators who can see a technical solution to one or many biological problems, are constantly appearing and driving the treatment of medical conditions forward. Our app was just one of the exciting progressions enabled by the meteoric rise of mobile technology.

At an event such as this one, where cutting edge technologies are being discussed with reference to how they can alleviate suffering, attention naturally turned to how our access to new methods could benefit those in the third world. A theme of excitement ran through many of the speeches. New ideas here mean greater access in shorter time to those who need it most, and it was humbling to hear so many impassioned professionals talk about how this type of work had driven their ideas, contributed to their careers, and, sometimes, superseded their career entirely.

It seemed appropriate that one of the main focuses at TEDmed this year was that biological computer, the human brain. The link between imaginative solutions and cognitive function, and how one could aid and better the other, was a running theme. Along with talks on saving the brain from unalterable damage, was a speech about the nature of the brain at different stages of development. During teenage years the brain undergoes extreme growth, and there was a plea for brain function at all levels to be respected as part of the evolution of a child, to an adolescent, to an adult. Hopefully in time we can learn to appreciate people at all ages, especially as it’s during adolescence that many become developers, and it’s these developers that go on to save lives with their ideas.     

Ultimately the event highlighted the fact that our project is just one in an ever-expanding community of medical innovations. We can expand our knowledge and our understanding of the human biological condition only so far, but unless the technology is in place to implement the solutions by making this new-found wisdom accessible, there is no practical benefit. This week I learnt that our contribution is one in a rich tapestry of change that will eventually build to make a continuously evolving picture.

“The only constant in life is change.” Heraclitus