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County is positioning itself at the forefront of digital innovation, conference is told

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE is making strong progress in placing itself firmly on the UK map for digital innovation, a conference has heard.

The Merged Futures 6 conference, held at the University of Northampton, welcomed a record 350 delegates to a total 18 presentations and 20 exhibition stands, all showing off progress being made locally in virtual and mixed reality, Artificial Intelligence and technology.

In his opening speech, the university’s John Sinclair, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, said the theme for Merged Futures 6 was “technology for good”. Exhibits included virtual reality for wellbeing, artificial intelligence in service delivery, gamification of learning, smart glasses for the partially sighted and robo pets for the elderly.

 “Virtually everything you hear about today will involve local collaboration between individuals, businesses, West Northants Council and the University of Northampton,” he told delegates. “But there are also national and international companies here as we strive to put our county ever more firmly on the map for digital innovation.”

The forum, staged by the university in partnership with West Northamptonshire Council under the Digital Northants banner, attracted global tech giants including Microsoft, Amazon and Jadu. “We want to welcome even more major players in the tech industry to Merged Futures going forward,” John said.

The council’s chief information officer Chris Wales added: “Emerging technology, including virtual reality and artificial intelligence and the way they can improve people’s lives, educate and transport them to new worlds, is incredible.

Tyronne Leon-Fernandez.

“I think there are some fantastic people working in the sector and many of them are local, which is even better. There are great prospects for us as a council to seize upon some of that technology and roll it out further.”

Tyronne Leon-Fernandez was attending his second Merged Futures event for virtual reality education specialist RiVR, which supplies the blue-light services with training products.

“It is a really good group of guests who come here,” he said. “They are really engaged in virtual reality and extended reality and all these types of technologies but we are also here to show off what we do and show them something new they never seen before.”

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