NEW FORMS OF INTELLIGENCE
HUMANTECH INSTITUTE / HEIA-FR
“Technology now pervades every single aspect of our day-to-day life. Sometimes it becomes oppressive and we ultimately submit to it. At the HumanTech Institute, we try to invert this paradigm by putting people right and center of our efforts.” Elena Mugellini who heads up this unit, which is part of the Fribourg School of Engineering and Architecture (HEIA-FR), oversees research at the interface between technological, economic and human sciences. The European project PEGASO, which benefits from CHF 9 million in Swiss funding, is a joint initiative developed by partners in the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Romania. Its mission: to help prevent obesity among adolescents and young adults. “Instead of blaming technology, we use it to try to promote a healthier way of living.” PEGASO comes in the shape of a mobile companion app featuring games, personalized advice, challenges, a host of useful information, as well as a tracking function. “The ecosystem requires input from a wide range of disciplines, such as nutrition, psychology, design and engineering. Here, in Fribourg, we’re responsible for the design and development of the app’s technical features”, explains Mugellini.
The HumanTech Institute is currently working on a number of other projects. PLUPART, a joint project with Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), aims to devise a system to help amputees suffering from phantom pain. Thanks to augmented reality, a technology that is becoming increasingly accessible and usable at home, the future looks very bright indeed. The iNUIT research program applies the Internet of Things at a city-wide level to develop new services in fields such as physical security, mobility, resource management and leisure. Some 20 people currently work for the institute, most of whom are professors, post-docs, doctoral students and engineers.