Technology and Society Speaker Series 2021 – Interfaces.

Wednesday 10th February 2021.

Keywords in Technology and Society is the 2021 Speaker Series for the University of Surrey’s cutting-edge research theme – Technology and Society.

Through nine editions in 2021, we will bring to you highlights of Surrey research across our three faculties, and two editions hosting external experts. Each of the nine editions will focus us on one key word in technology and society.


Interfaces was the 1st event in the Technology and Society Speaker Series 2021. Chaired by Dr Itziar Castello (Department of Digital Economy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation), the event highlighted fascinating research from 3 academics at the University of Surrey – Professor David Frohlich (Department of Music and Media, Digital World Research Centre), Professor Adrian Hilton (Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing) and Dr Nicola Carey (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, School of Health Sciences), presented by Nicola’s research collaborator Nicola Ayers.

The opening talk by Nicola Ayers and Dr Nicola Carey was titled ‘Developing an innovative healthcare system for palliative care in Ethiopia: co-design and user testing of a mobile phone based remote monitoring system (E-PC)’. This work centered around exploring views of palliative care patients and key stakeholders in Ethiopia regarding mobile phone technology and its ability to provide a healthcare system. These opinions and views were obtained via data collection and interviews. Key themes highlighted throughout this research included the current state of palliative care, the use of mobile phone technology and the acceptability of a palliative care application. Feedback proved to be wholly positive, with the app being well accepted. Dr Nicola Carey and Nicola Ayers intend for their next steps to center around looking for grants to conduct a full feasibility study and testing the app in various locations and systems.

Professor Adrian Hilton titled his talk ‘Personalised media and AI enabled storytelling’. Adrian’s work centered around why personalisation in media and AI would be effective. Key points highlighted improved engagement, accessibility requirements, personal interests etc. Adrian further outlined the three key challenges in AI and personalised content: capture – the transformation of video to audio-visual objects; production – the creation of personalised experiences; and delivery – the intelligent use of network resource for mass audiences. All 3 of these factors contribute to personalised media for all. Adrian finally highlighted AI@Surrey, a cross-university network connecting AI to domain expertise, and their new platform ‘AI@Surrey Compute Platform’, which contains resources to support cross-university AI research. This is an ongoing project and welcomes contributions from research groups across the university.

Finally, Professor David Frohlich completed Interfaces by discussing his work on ‘Changing sociotechnical interfaces by design’. David’s work spotlights the use of sound to recreate memories within dementia care. A fantastic aspect of David’s work is ‘Sound Songs’, which is defined as ‘a new sonic format of about the length of a music track but containing the unfolding of a soundscape representing a memory’. These can include the sounds heard within day-to-day activities such as a family dinner – perhaps the laying of the table or the scraping of a chair. David accentuated the new social practice of creating, playing and sharing these Sound Songs. The impressive ability of these soundscapes to allow those with dementia to recreate special memories is truly fascinating.

Huge thanks to all 3 speakers and our chair, Dr Itziar Castello, for enabling the opening event to the Technology and Society speaker series to be such a success. We are so excited for the series to continue and showcase more show-stopping research by academics both internal and external to the University of Surrey.