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TEDx Imperial College

On 24th March 2012, Imperial College London students hosted their first TEDx event. It was my first time attending a TEDx event too! I have to say it was great fun listening to innovate new ideas. being a graduate from Imperial College, it was great to go back for the day.

The event was 6 hours long and split into 3 sections with 12 speakers. The sections were as follows: Changing Perspective, Breaking Boundaries and Improving Lives.

The first talk was presented by Manel Torres called “Spray-on Fabrics“. Manel Torres talked about his research on fabrics sprayed from a can. He has achieved this and was wearing a t-shirt that his colleagues sprayed on him.Other than the fact that the fabrics were sprayed onto the body, what was amazing was that if the fabric was cut or ripped, you can simply spray on a layer over the rip and it is mended. The dry out time is fairly quick and it doesn’t stick to skin or hair!

Next up was Nick Sireau who spoke about rare diseases and how they are fundamental to understanding some of the common diseases. He spoke at length about Alkaptonuria (AKU) and how it has no cure but advances have been made to treatments and support for the patients.

The first session ended with Andrew Morley talking about “Music from the Genome”. It was the process of taking the DNA and translating it to music; mapping the bases to musical notes and creating a choral piece.

The second session focused on breaking boundaries, but the talk by Michael Korn created  boundaries or walls. KwickScreen is a product designed by Michael which is essentially a retractable room partition. It is a portable device which creates a screen or a partition when pulled out. This has currently been used by the NHS to create partition between patient beds and sections. The idea is simple and why it works.

Alexander Schey presented Racing Green, a student team at Imperial College set out to change the electric vehicle scene. They built a fully electric car with a top speed of 200 kmph and range of 400+km on a single charge. The most impressive feat is the endurance drive on the Pan American highway from Alaska to Ushuaia about 26000km. The technology is very promising.

Aldo Faisal spoke about breaking into the brain and helping people with paralysis or some form of disability to interact with computers. He explained how the eye and it’s muscles are connected directly to the brain and so even with any spinal cord injury (which causes paralysis) , the eye can still move at will. Using this fact, he built a cheap and affordable eye tracking device allowing people to interact with the computer through simply looking at the screen and blinking.

Aleks Kolkowski played the old Victorian sounds of the Great Exhibition of 1851 through the use of wax cylinders and gramophones. Sophie Scott showed how laughter is the emotion which is shared among all cultures including the tribes of Africa who have had no contact with any other civilisation. Interestingly she states that rats “laugh” as well.

John Graham-Cumming talked about Charles Babbage and his Analytical Engine, the first computer. Interestingly, this was never finished and the design remains on paper. Now a project is under way to construct this machine and bring it to life.

Andrew Shoben is THE public art professor in the UK. His work revolves around integrating public art with the public. His art came in the form of tuned railings so when struck in order played a tune; a project in Cambridge where benches and bins were robotic so when called, they would move towards the people.

Joanis Holzigel spoke about e.quinox. A student initiative to help improve the life of villagers in remote parts of Africa by providing cheap and clean electricity. The project has already had an impact on over 2000 people in Rwanda and Tanzania. e.quinox provides battery boxes charged through solar energy and sold cheaply with LED bulbs.

Last but not the least was Junior Smart. Junior has set up a St. Giles’ trust Southwark Offenders Support (SOS) aiming to reduce re-offending by ex-offenders. He helps by providing a holistic and tailor-made support to each ex-offender in the programme. In the 5 years of running the re-offending numbers have gone down from 75% to under 10%.


This TEDx event at Imperial College London was a good experience in terms of learning about the new technologies,  social and entrepreneurial initiatives.


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