Behind the Scenes – June 2023Caroline Laurenson
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
June is flying by and soon we will be off for the summer.
We’ve been busy working on some new ideas and excited to let you know more about our plans.
Find out what happens behind the scenes at our family run smart home business. This month is all about podcasts and widgets!
Fife Family Fun Day
This was such a good event, great to see so many visitors interested in STEM and having fun. It was a also very busy day for us as we had two stalls, one about smart homes and another about Chemical Engineering.
European Chatbot and Conversational AI Summit
I’m super excited that this event is staying in Scotland for next year. I presented at it back in March and it really was fantastic! So well organised and lots of opportunities to learn and network. Delighted that I will be involved with the organising for next year and doing my best to track down voice enthusiasts across Scotland to be a part of the event. I know there are some amazing projects and experts out there who could share their experiences and showcase how wonderful Scotland is.
The Grey Hill
The new interactive theatre stories project that we’ve been collaborating on went live on Alexa. It is a soft launch at the moment while we look at funding options to continue on with creating content for the library and bringing in more writers.
The first story follows the main character, Jake, who has recently split up with his girlfriend and is faced with finding a new place to live. You get to help him navigate this new chapter in his life by helping him to decide which landlady to move in with. It is both heartwarming and hilarious. I have such a deep empathy for Jake as none of the choices are particularly appealing!
If you have an Alexa, you can check it out by saying “Alexa, enable The Grey Hill”.
Women in Data Science – Aberdeen
Earlier in the month I attended the Women in Data Science conference in Aberdeen. In the tech world it is rare to experience a day where you get to listen to a whole day of amazingly talented women talking about their work and it’s impact. In fact, in my whole life, I’ve never had an experience like it. The presentations were really inspirational, and I was honoured to be asked to contribute to one of the panel discussion sessions.
Royal Society Dinner
I had the honour of attending a Royal Society dinner in Aberdeen to talk about innovation strategy and skills gaps. It was a really interesting discussion including a broad range of views from across the North East of Scotland. In the North East, many of the businesses are energy focused, so it was nice to share a non-energy industry perspective as well.
Over on the Kindspace side of the business, after much procrastination, we’ve kicked off our new podcast series. The first episode is recorded and nearly ready for release in early July. The podcast is an exploration of kind spaces, where we’ll share strategies for improving your wellbeing. It allows you a purposeful pause in your busy day to feel calm and uplifted, ready to take on life. With each guest interview, we’ll dive deeper into what creating a kind space really means, exploring people’s lived experience and approaches to well-being and mental health. Our guests are truly beautiful and will include people we’ve met on our journey into tech, wellness, and entrepreneurship. We hope that you will come with us and continue on our journey to create more kindspaces, sharing your insights and asking questions as together we spread kindness across the globe.
I recorded quite a few interviews over the last few months, which coincidentally came out with similar timings. Each one has a slightly different focus though, and I share different insights into our background and some of the initiatives that we have been working on. Talking about my past and how it has led me to where I am today, is something I do struggle with. Collaborating in discussions like these, are slightly less intimidating, especially as I’ve had such lovely hosts (hoping I can do an equally good job on the other side as the interviewer!). In the female founder one, I open up a little about my experiences of growing up with a parent who suffered from alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression. Perhaps some of what I talk about will resonate with you if you’ve had similar experiences. One of the interviews I don’t have a link for as it was part of a live radio show.
What is a Widget?
Thomas has been having lots of fun with the new Alexa widgets feature! They are designed to work on the Alexa devices with a screen to pin your favourite functions for quick access. On the largest Alexa Show15 screens it creates a kind of retro corkboard feel, with your appointments, shopping lists and notes all instantly visible. As someone who loves to stay organised, this does appeal to me. Widgets were recently made available to developers like us, allow us to link them to Alexa apps. We’ve created one for Kindspace that gives you a shortcut to access the check-in, tips and wellness activities. We’ve also created a specific stand-alone one that displays a Daily Affirmation, for inspiration and also something visually appealing to have on your screen. This week Thomas has been creating a Widget version of our pomodoro style timer, Phocus Space, which I’m very excited to make live, as I know a lot of people really like this productivity technique.
Kayla, our student, who has been working with us part time has been working on writing a handy How To guide all about widgets, to help you get started using them on your devices. We’re hoping to get this published on our website very soon.
In the meantime, to access the widgets all you need to do is swipe from the right-hand side to the left of the screen and then tap on the button that says ‘Widget Gallery’.
Is it too early to talk about December?
As an early heads up, we’re planning a bigger event the first week in December (the 4th to the 8th) in Aberdeen as we kindly have access to a space in the ONE Tech Hub in Aberdeen as part of their series to showcase the work that start-ups are doing in the local area.
So far, the rough plan for the week is:
- Day 1 – Hackathon Day
- Day 2 – STEM Future Skills Day
- Day 3 – Coffee Morning, Support in the Home Day
- Day 4 – Environment Day
- Day 5 – Festive Fun Day
It may feel very early to start talking about December, but if you’d like to get involved, perhaps you know some students who’d like to join the Hackathon, have a school that you think could benefit from a workshop session, or maybe you have some smart tech that needs fixed or questions about tech, we’re hoping to also have drop in sessions through the week where you and get help from an expert (aka Thomas).
We hope you have a wonderful summer and that you have some nice plans. We are off to Shetland and looking forward to seeing the Tall Ships festival. So, our next update is likely to be later in August when the kids head back to school.