One of the first few Instagram posts I made on techitsme was about how I created a safety chatbot using Chatfuel which is integrated with Facebook messenger. Therefore it was no surprise that I would be first in line to attend a workshop by Pink Programming with Furhat Robotics, the world's most advanced social robot, and Prototyp to learn how to make my own social robot.
Before the workshop, after downloading the necessary material, I went on to explore the virtual robot. My first impressions were that by "social robot" they really did mean it. I could change the skin colour, voice, language, and physical appearance of the Furhat virtual robot to suit my preference. In practice, this is very important to create inclusive interactions.
If you want to see me interacting with the one I created look here!
The use of social robots is found across industries from research to business and in less than 3 hours, those of us in the workshop could imagine even more ways to use the technology.
As soon as I stared Tech It's Me I knew that there were some startups that I really wanted to showcase and partner with. So with a few followers and a brave spirit I reached out to ImagilLabs to see if I could get to know them and talk about their work.
One of my favourite startups in Sweden, ImagiLabs is a female-led tech-company teaching girls how to code with their innovative and interactive app accompanied by a hardware product known as the Imagicharm. On the app, the user creates images on an 8x8 matrix using Python basics. Once you run your successful code you can share it with the wonderful ImagiLabs community and upload it onto your ImagiCharm which makes the coding experience very tangible.
Within the app, you find a community of aspiring coders sharing their creations and code. I was happy to be the first to upload the South African flag into the category of flags. I must admit, it was rather challenging to code. With girls more likely to experience the digital divide than their counterparts, ImagiLabs paves the way for an inclusive future.
35000ft in the air, on my way from Sweden to South Africa I was again pleasantly surprised that I could be on the internet (albeit with limited usage) and stay in touch with those waiting for me at home. I thought to myself how valuable the internet has become to us, being able to send those messages in mid-flight brought me great comfort.
Sadly, a week later, one the ground I found myself perplexed. Spending our Christmas in our rural* village, my family and I relied on cell phone internet and mobile hotspotting to support our daily connections. Even though we had a wifi router (like others) we were unable to use it as it could not connect to the nearest tower, 47 km away.
Now I am no expert, so I don't know the maximum distance a tower should be to connect to a router- but on the grander scheme of things, if it was possible to have wifi in a plane, I am sure better coverage should be possible for "remote" communities.
I realised that even though we had the router, which speaks to the fact that we are not limited by economical digital divide, our limitation was infrastructure. One of the systems that play a role in the digital divide. Through this experience I was prompted to read up on digital divide and here are the three forms of it:
Because we were on vacation the lack of coverage was not a dealbreaker but for those needing to get back to work, it meant that even with the option to work from home, you had to return to the city. As much as I enjoy learning and interacting digitally, I welcomed taking a much-appreciated break. However, a break from the internet should be a choice not a reality.
*subjective to a personal definition of rural.
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