CONTENT COURTESY BMOBILE
“What are its functions? What can it do?” the boy asked, as he peered intently at the robot in front of him. No more than ten years old, his teacher tried in vain to get his attention. But the boy was mesmerised by the technological marvel before him, firing off question after question at the representative from Wepala, an innovation focused firm that introduces students to STEM concepts using robotics.
This youngster’s reaction was exactly what the TEDxPortofSpain organisers had in mind when they decided to shine the spotlight on technology (the ‘T’ in TED) by including a tech hub at their most recent event.
Under the theme Opportunity, the tech hub allowed participants to explore innovative technologies in action in TT, and consider opportunities to leverage them for business, education, and social good.
As an advocate for leveraging technology in national development, TSTT, through its commercial brand, bmobile, was proud to partner with TEDxPortofSpain to host the mindset-shifting event. Marsha Caballero, TSTT’s senior manager corporate communications noted, “As a technology driven company, we look forward to partnering with entities, like TEDxPortofSpain, that are committed to elevating the conversation and inspiring leaders of today and tomorrow. Technology has changed the way we live and interact with the world so their decision to introduce a tech hub is both relevant and commendable. We support their efforts to bridge the gap by highlighting some of the trailblazers making waves locally. It is inspiring and exciting to see the technological solutions being created by us, for us and the rest of the world.”
The entities that brought the tech hub to life covered training youth in coding, robotics, video game development and electronics. Programmes that help entrepreneurs move from idea to prototype through to commercialisation were also represented alongside organisations, such as Vetiver TT, that promote environmental conservation by way of ecological engineering solutions.
Apart from robotics, the percussive harmonic instrument (PHI) was one of the showstoppers at the tech hub. The PHI is a MIDI synthesiser similar to an electric keyboard but designed in the form of the steelpan. Eager attendees were able to grab a pair of pan sticks and test their musical acumen on the national instrument-inspired design. A limited number of PHI is set to go on sale in the coming months. Fasove Ltd, the company that exhibited the PHI in the tech hub, assisted with its housing design and packaging as well as the design and production of its electronic components.
The National Institute for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology (NIHERST), showcased its Fab Lab, a creative space in which members of the public can access 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, electronic workstations and robotic kits at affordable rates. The goal of Fab Lab, the first of its kind in TT, is to stimulate local product development and entrepreneurship by offering the technological tools and support to help creators, inventors and innovators develop their ideas into marketable products.
In addition to the Tech Hub, 12 speakers including Gregory Aboud, Kari Cobham, Carver Bacchus and Onika Henry used the Queen’s Hall stage to deliver a series of dynamic presentations and interviews. Attorney Susan Francois, former director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, shared her vision with the audience. “A world without cash seems inevitable, if not imminent,” she warned, as she discussed technology-powered cashless transactions, as the antidote to crime fuelled by a cash-based economy.