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June, 2020

The Good News #10

Over the past few months, we’ve been using our blog to highlight some of the positive news stories during the pandemic. Now, as businesses slowly start to return to normal, albeit a new normal we’re taking the opportunity to highlight some of the most creative and interesting ways businesses are adapting to this strange situation.

LED Face Masks
As it’s clear face masks are probably going to be here to stay for a while, we’re excited to see a creative solution to the problem of not being able to see if someone is talking or smiling behind their mask. Game designer Tyler Glaiel built a face mask with a voice activated panel and a series of LED lights. When the wearer speaks, the 16 lights shine through the mask, giving the appearance of talking, while clicking the tongue can make the mask smile. The components for the mask cost around £40, with the most expensive one being the flexible LED matrix into which the lights are inserted. Glaiel used an Arduino Nano, a small microcomputer akin to the Raspberry Pi, to control how the lights react. He also used some electrical tape, a small microphone, a 9V battery, and some electrical tape, according to a Medium post explaining how to build the mask at home. The completed code was also posted on GitHub, though unless users purchase the specific items used by Glaiel it may require some editing before it will work seamlessly. Similarly, to most of the cloth masks on the market right now, the mask may not be completely effective in stopping the spread of Coronavirus and it will of course, have to be washed between uses (with the electronics removed). Unfortunately, Glaiel is not planning on selling the masks so you’ll have to channel your inner Blue Peter presenter and make one at home, you can read the step by step instructions here.

RentSpace
One of the many reasons we love Bristol, is the creative nature of the city. However, at times it can be difficult for artist and creatives to find appropriate spaces to rent. Forensic DNA Analyst turned artist Rachel Porosa and music producer and DJ Sean Williams created a free iPhone app, RentSpace, as a dedicated space on which people can easily find listings of studios or creative spaces available to rent. The app contains no hidden costs, subscriptions or in-app purchases because they wanted to make it easier for artists, musicians and creatives to find workspaces in Bristol. It’s also completely free for studio owners to advertise their spaces on the app. As the Coronavirus pandemic has been predicted to potentially change the way we work forever, the app provides a much needed opportunity for creatives to find convenient workspaces. You can find out more about RentSpace here or search RentSpace on the app store.

UiPath x Takeda
In May, pharma company Takeda began recruiting patients for a clinical trial of a promising Covid-19 treatment involving antibodies drawn from the blood of recovered patients. It normally takes several weeks to collect people’s information, determine who may be suitable for the trial, and get the paperwork in order. With the coronavirus still spreading, Takeda sped things up using a quick and simple trick: using software to record tasks like opening files, selecting input fields, and cutting and pasting text. Those tasks can then be repeated for each prospective patient. The result: The paperwork got done in days instead of weeks. Takeda started testing this approach, known as robotic process automation, or RPA, several months before the pandemic, with software from a company called UiPath. Inspired by the success, Takeda is now stepping up its use of RPA with a plan to train thousands of staff to build and use software bots for themselves. It recently ran a successful pilot with 22 employees and estimates that the effort could automate 4.6 million hours of office work per year—the equivalent of roughly 2,000 full-time workers. But Takeda doesn’t see the technology displacing anyone, the goal is to boost productivity, and hiring has increased as the software bots have been rolled out. The shift towards remote work provides an opportunity for companies like Takeda to rethink operations and consider automating tasks. Experts predict that disruptions due to Covid will accelerate office automation.

Social distancing shoes
Struggling to maintain social distancing? Fortunately, Grigore Lup, a cobbler from the Transylvanian city of Cluj in Romania has created a stylish solution. Lup has created size 75 leather shoes as a way for wearers to maintain a safe distance from others after noticing that people were not following the safety guidance amid the coronavirus pandemic. He told journalists, “If two people wearing these shoes were facing each other, there would be almost one-and-a-half metres between them.” The shoes in question, are adapted from a previous model Lup made for actors, are a European size 75 and require almost one square metre of leather.

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