Bloomsbury Festival

The Bloomsbury Festival is an arts and science festival across multiple venues in London in October each year. Over the last two years the BRC has partnered with the festival to engage with the public about the INSIGHT Eye Hub which is making NHS Eye data available for research.

Moorfields BRC and INSIGHT built on our ongoing relationship with the Bloomsbury Festival.

The BRC held an engagement activity at a public engagement event, The Discovery Hub where we showcased our robot ALICE and discussed all things data.

Bloomsbury festival logo
insight health data research hub logo
graphic image of ALICE the robot

Our aim has been to engage with more people about machine learning in eye health research.

Firstly we made a film focusing on a fictional robot named: Artificial Learning Intelligent Computer Eye (or ALICE for short), who uses machine learning to look at images.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms are able to pinpoint diagnostic characteristics in eye scans called optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Our film communicated this to a younger audience.

ALICE the robot being constructed

We decided that we needed a 'real' ALICE and so we built her into a life-sized model. We took her to the Discovery Hub which hosts school groups and members of the public to engage with scientists and researchers as part of the festival.

We set ALICE up so she could try to identify objects by 'looking' at them with the help of photographed images and an app called TapTapSee.

Each group of people who came to the stand had ALICE attempt to identify objects which she did with varying degrees of success. This led nicely to discussion about artificial intelligence, imaging, health care and how we test the accuracy of an algorithm.

The event was a success and we plan to take ALICE to other public engagement and science festivals in the future.

person speaking with child at the bloomsbury festival
ALICE the robot poses with humans

Other work with the Bloomsbury festival has involved

  • Radio broadcasts

  • 2 series of podcasts Insights into INSIGHT - which can be found here

  • An art collective Windows of the Soul