Earlier this year I was assigned to photograph Project Breathe for Microsoft. Project Breathe is a smartphone-based solution which allows people with cystic fibrosis to monitor their health at home with devices that measure key indicators such as lung function, blood oxygen levels and activity. That data is then stored in the cloud and can be accessed by clinicians on a dashboard using Power BI, Microsoft’s data visualisation platform, to look for trends and determine when patients are becoming unwell. By tracking their own data, patients can intervene earlier and potentially head off serious, lung-damaging infections.
The solution was developed through a consortium involving Microsoft, the U.K.-based Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the University of Cambridge, Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, Microsoft Research and Magic Bullet.
I wanted to capture the human side of the project and show how the tech was improving people’s lives. The problem was that as we were discussing the photography the world changed and the UK went into lockdown. How do you photograph during a pandemic which is shielding the most vulnerable, when the assignment requires photographing people with cystic fibrosis in various locations including hospitals?
There was an initial thought that we should postpone the story but then realised that the lockdown was not going away and that Project Breathe became even more important to capture. The fundamental concept of the idea was to reduce hospital visits and try and have each person monitor, understand, and manage their condition.
The pandemic meant that there was a new risk to anyone visiting a hospital with cystic fibrosis, and hospitals were now under great pressure to reduce visits that were not Covid 19 related.
I spent time talking with everyone involved to learn as much as I could about how they were part of Project Breathe, and in the cases of those with cystic fibrosis, how they were using the tech.
It was an incredibly inspiring project to photograph and I enjoyed spending time with everyone involved. I have also been pleased at the initial response with a great retweet and comment from Satya Nadella
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