People-Centered Research for Social and Environmental Sustainability

Hello everyone, I hope you stay healthy. I recently had a chance to join the ASPIRE Student Workshop 2021 was held online from June 24 to June 30 and it was a great experience for me. With that said, I would spare no details in case if students who are hesitant whether if they should register in the ASPIRE Student Workshop or a similar type of online program find this, it can be taken as one of the information used for their consideration.

At first, the reason why I applied for the program is that I want to broaden my perspectives. In my opinion, by staying with the same group of people who share similar background e.g., academic background, we might unconsciously stick with the specific pattern of thinking. To stay up to date and be prepared for changes, the input of different perspectives once in a while would be the perfect catalyst. Hence, as the theme of the ASPIRE Student Workshop required the cooperation of various fields of studies, lots of people who are in a different field can gather and freely exchange their knowledge and experiences in the program. Hoping to widen my knowledge and perspectives through this mechanism and to refresh my mind, I registered for the program.

The main theme of the workshop is “Better Living for All in a New Normal” with three workshop topics including

[A] Propose super-smart services and products (e.g., smart mobility, smart agriculture, etc.) realized by 5G and beyond

[B] Propose services and devices to prevent accidents caused by changes in mental and physical functions of children or the elderly

[C] Propose any biotechnology‐based services and devices that you think we have to invent and develop in order for 100 people to live on the moon for a year

I was interested and chose the [B] topic because I would like to challenge myself by working on a topic which I never done any research or projects related to it before.

The program was five days based and the main activities were conducted mainly on Zoom with the supports of Slack and Miro in some activities. The workshop students are from seven universities including Tokyo Tech, KAIST, HKUST, Tsinghua, NTU, Politecnico di Milano, and RWTH Aachen with a total of 22 students. On the first day, the host gave a brief review of the activities and allowed the participants to introduce themselves and get to know each other through ice-breaking activities. Then, three lectures related to the workshop topics were given on the second day along with the group work tutorial.

After the tutorial, the program lets the participants freely discuss their work tendencies. In case which there is any question arose, the TAs of each team will help answer and support the participants. The third day included the symposium in webinar form which allow participants other than the workshop students to participate. Lecturers from different universities were presented and each of them shared amazingly interesting topics. From the second day to the last day, group work sessions were conducted.

Apart from the work and discussion within the group, each group was required to present their progress in the feedback meeting where they can get feedback from the faculties then adapted them to elevate their work before the final presentation.

To address the topic of “Propose services and devices to prevent accidents caused by changes in mental and physical functions of children or the elderly”, our group managed to develop the slippers which aim to prevent falls and provide the emergency alert for the elderly called “eSlippers”. The target is the elderly who live alone because they are likely to fall more compared to those who live with family and once the incident occurs it would be difficult for them to call for help. The eSlippers provide several functions as follows.

  • Anti-slip texture (To increase friction between the slipper’s material and the floor)
  • Obstacles detection and Wet areas detection (Detect obstacles and the transition area between wet-dry which might cause falls)
  • Excessive time spend alert (In case they spend an abnormally long time in the bathroom which might cause some health issue like faint once they stand up after sitting for a long time the sound will be played to warn them about the time)
  • Sudden change detection (Detect Falls)
  • User’s data collection (Daily track user’s health condition e.g., pace, heart rate, etc. and always compare/analyze to detect/predict change in behavior which might be caused by becoming weaker)
  • Notification (In case of the abnormality or incident happen, the eSlippers can send the notification to the user’s family and hospital so that the aids can be provided in a timely manner)

 

The picture to the left is our logo (I drafted them myself! Of course, with the help of Flaticon) and the picture to the right shows the rough draft resulted from our design thinking session.

The final presentation was launched on the last day of the program with the presence of ASPIRE League member universities’ vice presidents and senior staff. Each group was evaluated, and the winner of the award was selected. Due to the Covid-19 situation, all participants were awarded and given the certificate of program completion in an online-based format.

By joining the ASPIRE forum, I am able to make connections with my teammates from other universities and even one who is from Tokyo Tech as well. We communicated our ideas and worked together in positive attitudes and successfully delivered our final idea in the final presentation. Apart from the workshop discussion, we also exchanged the knowledge related to our culture and liking, we even follow each other on social media to keep in touch.

The completion of this workshop left me with such a great impression. Not only I fulfilled my initial goal in acknowledging new perspectives from people in different fields, but I also got opportunities to make new friends and develop my interpersonal skills working with others from different tongues, cultures and universities.

 

These are some photos including my group shot (with the TAs) and photos during the workshop, we had a great time 🙂

Note: For those who are interested in ASPIRE Forum and ASPIRE Student Workshop, see the following websites for details.

https://www.titech.ac.jp/english/international-cooperation/global/featured/aspire#forum

Written by Pinitjitsamut Pat