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Tech's next step: social change

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 02:06

Technology is constantly changing lives but 100 firms have done more than most. As Joel Flyn reports a malaria diagnosis app, do-it-yourself architecture and camera glasses have recently won awards for driving social change.

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This is IanXen's xRAPID app on an iPhone. Designer Jean Viry-Babl says it could save thousands of lives. The screen shows malaria - a small microscope attached to the phone helps diagnose the disease's parasites in blood samples. SOUNDBITE: IanXen co-founder, Jean Viry-Babl, saying (English): "So we take a high definition picture of a sample of blood, we separate the red blood cells from the rest, the white blood cells, the palettes, and we start looking at each of the red blood cells individually; through a facial recognition software we have taught the iPhone what to look for." Another one of the 100 tech firms recognised for helping drive social change is Smart Glasses. It's placed cameras on spectacles to help improve depth perception for those with sight problems. The list of companies was put together by the Nominet Trust. Annika Small is its CEO. SOUNDBITE: Nominet Trust CEO, Annika Small, saying (English): "What's exciting to see is that here in the UK and in London in particular, there is a momentum building about the use of technology for social change, so we're seeing examples of how organisations can both make money but also make a difference, and that's pretty powerful stuff." This might look like an ordinary building under construction. But all the materials here have been 3D printed - and anyone can put them together. Alastair Parvin is one of the co-founders of WikiHouse - an online platform where people can share their designs. He hopes it will help create a whole new generation of sustainable housing. SOUNDBITE: WikiHouse co-founder, Alastair Parvin, saying (English): "So we're effectively saying sustainable design solutions should effectively be common knowledge, in the way Wikipedia makes our knowledge commons - it's produced by many people, but it belongs to everyone, and we're doing effectively the same thing with that in design, and that is in a way more disruptive than the particular technologies that we're starting with." There's no doubt that technology will have a growing influence on our lives in years to come. But it isn't always a force for good - these companies are helping show how it can make the world a better place - not just a busier one.

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Tech's next step: social change

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 02:06