Researchers from i-sense joined the award winning show, New Scientist Live, as thousands of people visited the ExCel centre in London for a stimulating festival of ideas.
This year marked the second year of the show, which featured five themed zones, including cosmos, earth, humans, technology and engineering.
Sitting within the technology zone, the i-sense exhibit attracted a range of participants, from those excited to hear about our research into mobile healthcare and diagnostics for infectious diseases, to those wanting to be tested for the i-sense ‘Science Bug’.
Have you got the Science Bug?
With so many great exhibits, it was hard not to catch the Science Bug.
Research Associate from i-sense and the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research at UCL, Soazig Clifton, explained “We spread the Science Bug around the exhibition by handing out cards and stickers with our little Science Bug animation on them.
“The bug helped us demonstrate to young children how outbreaks occur, while also being a great conversation starter for people who approached our stall.”
Once at the stall, participants were encouraged to be tested for the bug to learn more about the diagnostic tools and technologies i-sense researchers are developing to help track, test and treat infectious diseases.
Participants marked on a map of the exhibition where they may have come in contact with the bug and then used a large scale model of our lateral flow tests and mobile app to get their diagnosis.
PhD student from i-sense’ McKendry group at UCL, Isabel Bennett, says “The model mobile app made our research instantly more accessible to the younger generation, who could quickly understand how our technologies would be used.”
Engaging the public in our research
Postdoctoral Research Associate from i-sense’ McKendry group at UCL, Dr Harriet Gliddon, says “New Scientist Live was a great opportunity for us to meet members of the public and explain our research.
“It’s an amazing motivation for us when the people we speak to are so excited and enthusiastic about our work.”
Through public engagement, i-sense members had the chance to talk about their research with a wide audience, as well as gain input and insights from potential end-users. Engaging the public in our research is important as early disease detection ultimately relies on public participation and technology developments rely on user feedback.
Postdoctoral Research Associate from i-sense’ McKendry group at UCL, Dr Eleanor Gray, says “Having a stand at New Scientist Live allowed us to get a sense of how people interacted with the ideas driving our research - faster and better connected diagnostic tests.
“I had pointers to a program I’d not come across (Lambeth SH24), and it was encouraging to hear potential end-users, particularly GPs, interested and engaged with what we’re trying to do.”
To foster open discussions, participants were also asked to share their thoughts on the future of mobile health and data sharing on a large chalkboard at our stall.
Postdoctoral Research Associate from i-sense at UCL, Dr Aneesha Singh, says, “The chalkboard was a great way to open up the floor to the public to tell us how they felt about data sharing and the future of mobile health.
“It was great to hear so many people excited about our research into understanding online patient pathways and the ways technology can impact treatment and care for people in the UK and developing countries.”
For more information on i-sense related public engagement activities, please visit our public engagement page.