Fabra i Coats – February 22
The dialogue “Healthy Habits: Technology to Live Better Today and Tomorrow” was preceded by the workshop on “Mobilise Yourself: Physical Apptivity. How the Mobile Phone Can Make Us More Active”, held at Fabra i Coats: Espai Josep Bota. The participants were Pere Manel from the Official College of Physical Activity and Sport Professionals of Catalonia, Joan Cornet from ECHAlliance and Carme Pratdepadua from TicSalut.
A healthy life and the continuous quest for wellbeing have become a way of life for many people, and they are increasingly the core of changing habits and everyday consumption. Technology not only applies improvements in the area of specific medical techniques or in everyday life, but it also offers tools to improve the treatment of mental illnesses and addictions, expanding the range of resources available to patients and their families and friends.
Cecilio Angulo, director of IDEAI, Research Centre in Science of Data and Artificial Intelligence of the UPC, shared with participants one of the projects being developed by the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia: “Robots for Health”. The initiative allows robots to begin to be integrated in hospitals as an instrument for improving patients’ quality of life, more specifically that of children and youths who are forced to be admitted for long periods of time.
“Robots for Health” is far from the needs and techniques of a surgical robot, since its goal is to offer patients a companion which allows younger patients to feel like they are not alone and to prevent them from getting frustrated in the most difficult situations.
In this scenario in which the digital revolution is on the rise, Jessica Fernández, the head of the engineering projects in Industrial Design at Elisava, tried to contextualise this situation. “Even though we’re not seeing a very clear change, we do see different fields, like labour, in which the change is indeed significant”. Many years elapse from a discovery until it reaches society and is integrated. This current revolution is the outcome of discoveries 25 years ago. In this context, Fernández told the audience one of the fields which will lead the forthcoming revolution, which is closer to science fiction and utopia than to the big shopping centres: smart textiles. One of the major advantages of this new technology is that it works on the surface. Unlike current technology, smart textiles are not invasive for users and are capable of handling a vast amount of data whose limits we do not yet know.
Technology integrated into the body will today allow a textile to be placed on a patient in the surgery to inform the anaesthesiologist of all their vital signs. However, we’re not yet ready to unplug the machines. We are witnessing how this kind of wearable, which was designed to be used with different apps, is beginning to be used to receive information about oneself.
Based on the comparison between the smartphone and textile technology, Antoni Gual, the head of the Addictive Behaviours Unit at the Hospital Clínic, clarified how both are being used. “A t-shirt is not invasive, but neither is a telephone if I’m the one who decides. Monitoring is an exceptional, impressive power over oneself, over the need to know oneself. If I can only see myself and my own information and I’m the one who controls it, I’m the one who has the power”, he claimed. According to Gual, we should also focus on how the device with which we’re working notifies us: “If the app notifies me in a pleasant way, it will have a different impact than if its notifications are annoying”. In order for this evolution to yield technology that is useful for users, one of the cornerstones on which it should be based is the quality of its responses.
Many of the technological advances currently focus on improving users’ health. Anna Puig, a full professor at the University of Vic and coordinator of the consolidated research group on Sport and Physical Activity (GREAF), points to sedentarism as one of the worst habits in our society and one of the focal points of the improvements on which her projects are focused. We have performed several studies to try to change poor habits, like the amount of time we are seated. “We have discovered that of the 17 hours we are awake, we spend 10 of them sitting, and 66% of this time is at work”. The use of the new tools and technology can help change behaviours and improve people’s habits.
Malwaine Steinbock, the co-founder and director of Food Republik, stated that the solution to food-related problems also includes technology. Problems like overpopulation, the production of meat and its protein, the sustainability of crops, the food quality of what we eat and the amount of plastic we use are diagnosed problems which we are hurtling toward. Steinbock presented several solutions that are already being used, such as alt-foods, a solution to eat more sustainable protein without losing either the texture or flavour of animal flesh, and clean meats, an option that develops meat via stem cells which grows more quickly and uses fewer resources that an animal.
The dialogue closed with an idea of the future in which all the speakers agreed: “You have to democratise technology in order to empower users and given them tools”.
The district of Sant Andrew hosted the workshops that combined more artistic disciplines with technology: music, sculpture and design paired up with the new technologies in different iconic sites around the district. Mariona Ciller, the founder and director of SokoTech, was in charge of coordinating the workshops.
The “Electronic Origami” workshops held at the Biblioteca Can Fabra allowed participants to learn about electrical circuits by making fun origami figures using LEDs, paper and scissors. This workshop was held in conjunction with Bibliotecas de Barcelona, SokoTech and American Space Barcelona.
The district also had a space for music with a workshop entitled “Create Your Own Melody for the Mobile Phone with Creative Programming” held in conjunction with SokoTech and Bibliotecas de Barcelona, with Biblioteca de la Sagrera providing the venue. The workshop “Use your Mobile Phone to Compose a Song”, which featured smartphones, was held in conjunction with the Canòdrom space and again with SokoTech. Through additive manufacturing and 3-D design, different objects and designs were created in the workshop entitled “Introduction to 3-D Scanning and Printing” held in conjunction with SokoTech, which provided the venue.
Finally, a workshop on “Creative and Innovative Uses of Livestream Video” was held in Fabra i Coats. This workshop presented, demonstrated and discussed the current potential of livestream video for culture and society. The workshop was held in four sessions and was organised by Livemedia.
Children learned what an electrical current is and how a simple electrical circuit works in the workshop “Conductivity and Circuits: Build an Electronic Character!” held at La Barraca Civic Centre Tecnologies Creatives in conjunction with SokoTech. Through a plasticine base especially formulated to conduct electricity, the participants in this workshop were able to grasp the difference between insulating and conductive materials, continuous current and the reasons behind a short-circuit. Once they understood the basic principles of electrical circuits, they built a fun circuit using plasticine, batteries and LED diodes, dreaming up fantastical creatures and illuminating them as far as their imagination would take them.
The “#GirlsHackDay” workshop from the María de Maeztu UPF programme invited girls to develop technology to mitigate the gender divide in ICTs and break with stereotypes. It was also held at SokoTech. The workshop was devoted to teaching the girls how to build a wind turbine with the assistance of an engine and a small LED light bulb which helps them understand how wind energy is converted into electrical energy.