Your background is in music and presenting – how did you get onto a technology show?
I’ve always been a technology fan. I thought my Game Boy was the most amazing thing ever as a kid. At 16 I got a mobile – a real brick – and I was obsessed. Since then I’ve loved having the latest phone. I also had a boyfriend who was into modifying cars, so I got fascinated by engines and stereos. Eventually I pestered the Gadget Show, which I’d always loved, saying that if they ever needed a new presenter, they had to screen test me. A few weeks later I was working for them.
Did your genuine enthusiasm get you the job ahead of other prospective presenters?
I think what swung it was the fact I throw myself into stuff. My screen test included racing round a dirt track on a Segway, and I fell off so many times! I’m quite practical too – I live on my own, so I can put up shelves.
Technology is all about enthusiasm for new things, and I’ve got that. It’s the most exciting field to work in because it’s constantly moving, changing and getting better.
Do we still need more women in technology?
Yes, but a huge amount of progress has been made.
Technology has always been male-dominated and seen as geeks on computers typing out zeroes and ones, but it’s changing. Apple played a huge part in making the subject more accessible, attractive and easy.
They changed perceptions. The glass ceiling is gone now I think, and I can only see the gender ratio equalling out further.
Are younger girls getting interested, though?
Definitely. I was helping a classroom of young girls doing a project called Apps for Good recently, which is all about inventing phone applications.
They were coming up with incredible ideas, and the fact that they are the future is very encouraging, because they’re miles ahead of where we were as kids. When I was younger, little girls had dolls and prams. Now, tiny children are engaging with technology and operating iPhones when they’re four.
Has the male geek stereotype been put to bed, too?
I think so. There are so many people who are creative and uber-cool working in technology now, and what they’re creating certainly is far from boring. It has turned a corner and become fashionable, and with things like apps, such a wide field is covered. I don’t think you see techy boys now and think: “Steer clear, he’s going to be dull.”
What are your favourite bits of technology?
I love music gadgets. I have the Zeppelin Air speaker system, which I love – although my neighbours probably hate it.
And I can’t live without my smart phone.
What is the next exciting field of technology, then?
Health. There are some great apps and gadgets that I think will become very popular soon. I recently helped out with a campaign for a diabetes app called iBGStar, which makes managing glucose levels very easy on a smart phone.
It’s been quite hard for kids to deal with managing their diabetes, and it’s not a very cool thing, is it? But this device is so easy, very slick and gives them the right information.
I’ve just got myself a Nike Fuelband, which monitors how active you’ve been each day, which is ingenious. You can set goals for yourself, and get more active. Hopefully there are a lot more developments to come in this field, and they’ll help a large number of people.
Polly and the rest of The Gadget Show cast will be at the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham from the 11th to the 16th April.
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