Wednesday, September 29, 2010

iCub, A Robot Child and “Kompaï the Robot” Helps the Aging, Green Homes, Virtual Reality and More

More than 100 groundbreaking information and communication technology (ICT) research projects funded by the EU are being showcased at the "ICT 2010-Digitally Driven" conference and exhibition in Brussels Expo from 27 to 29 September. The event, organised every two years by the European Commission and this year hosted by the Belgian Presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers, brings together researchers, businesses and policy makers to show the latest ICT advances. Major themes this year are research for sustainable growth in a low-carbon economy, ICTs' constructive impact on everyday life and the importance of public funding and support in ICT research and innovation. Stepping up ICT research and innovation, a key objective of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200)will help increase Europe’s productivity and growth, improve the quality of life and overcome social challenges.

Examples of some of the projects at ICT 2010-Digitally Driven include:
The 3D-COFORM project aims to make 3-D digitisation of artefacts and sites as affordable, practical and effective as possible for the long-term conservation of cultural heritage. 3D-COFORM contributes to initiatives like Europeana (see MEMO/10/166) and the European initiative on Digital Libraries to reinforce the digitisation of European cultural heritage. The project is carried out by universities and research centres in, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and UK and.
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Reducing energy consumption is essential to cut global CO2 emissions. BeAware technology helps European citizens to identify energy consumption patterns at home and to actively save energy, and money. Wireless and interactive sensors first measure how much energy is consumed by household appliances. They then inform consumers of the potential for energy savings. Currently families in Finland and Italy are testing BeAware technologies. The project is carried out by universities and research centres in Finland, Italy and Sweden.
Lighting accounts for over 20% of all electricity consumption in Europe. The Solid State Lighting project,, has developed organic lighting technologies that are 5 times more efficient than conventional lighting. This could help the EU reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) do not contain mercury and due to their long lifetime, they also create less waste.The project is coordinated by Philips Technology GmBH and research partners from universities in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK.
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Presenccia researches virtual technology solutions in medical applications for the disabled and for rehabilitation. Thanks to a breakthrough in brain computer interface technology, virtual reality can change the body perception of a person, which has important implications for the concept of self. PRESENCCIA could teach amputees how to use a prosthetic limb or people in a wheelchair to walk in virtual reality. It can even help paralysed people to type with their thoughts. The project was carried out by universities, research centres and SMEs from Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
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SAFERIDER technology aims to increase road safety and the riding comfort of bikers. The new technology alerts riders to excessive speed, the risk level of bends in the road ahead or when they need to change lanes to avoid collision by giving information about the speed and position of oncoming cars and trucks. In case of a crash, SAFERIDER also uses the eCall system to automatically dial Europe's single emergency number - 112 - and transfers the location of the accident to the emergency services. At ICT 2010 a Piaggio MP3 hybrid scooter and a Yamaha Tenere motorcycle can be tested with this state of the art technology. This project is coordinated by universities and research centres from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Other partners include Yamaha, Porsche and Piaggio.
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PlayMancer explores the potential benefits of 3-D games in the healthcare sector. Playing games can help alleviate the negative effects of mental disorders and support patients to better cope with regular therapy. The game takes the patient to a virtual world and during the game recognises the patients’ emotions based on facial gestures, body movements and speech. The game computes the emotional state of the patient and adjusts itself accordingly. This can help to ease the patients' symptoms while their therapist monitors progress online. The project is carried out by universities, research centres and SMEs in Austria, Denmark, Greece, TheNetherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
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The project “Kompaï the robot” seeks to help to tackle the challenge of Europe's ageing population. Kompaï is designed to assist ill, disabled or ageing people who need help to lead independent lives at home. The robot can speak, understand what is said, find its way around the house, and even access internet services. It reminds users of meetings with friends and family, it can keep track of shopping lists or set up a videoconference on the internet so the users can talk to their doctors. French company Robosoft has designed Kompaï. Other research partners are from Austria, France and Hungary.

iCub can sit, crawl and pick up objects with its five-fingered hands. By watching, listening and touching, the robot learns from its surroundings – just like a child would. There is a growing need for household robots with cognitive skills to tackle the challenge of the ageing society. Assistive robots need to perform household chores like bringing medicine or serving a drink to help the elderly or physically impaired. More than 20 laboratories in the world have adopted iCub. The project was carried out by universities and research centres in Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK

Robot Child
Credit: iCub
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Source: EU Commission news release

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