AI-based platform Hai brings COVID-related safety awareness to the public

To help face COVID-19 and ensure both health and well-being, the European service provider in product innovation Verhaert Masters in Innovation developed ‘Hai’: a digital demonstrator platform, based on user-centered Artificial Intelligence.

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New platform Hai for safer behavior

After 3 months of lockdown, strong regulations, and economic struggle, we’re carefully going back to our “normal” life. It’s a challenge to find the right balance between the well-being and health of the population, and a steady recovery after this critical period. 

To provide an answer to this challenging situation, Verhaert developed a demonstrator of a digital platform that uses AI-based Computer Vision to extract essential metrics from any room or area. The ‘Hai’ platform can bring COVID-related safety awareness to the public, allowing them to make informed decisions. It’s not a surveillance system, but a tool to empower people with relevant data about a specific space and to nudge them in a positive way towards a safer behavior. 

Components of the AI system

The digital platform consists of 3 components:

  1. Cameras to record a live feed of the people present in a particular area, the people entering and leaving the place.
  2. An edge AI system to process the footage on-the-fly. The system extracts the number of people, how many of them wear face masks, and measures the physical distance between individuals.
  3. Online dashboard to display this information in a friendly and educational way. 

Let’s say you work at your desk and you want to get something from the cafeteria. On the dashboard, you can see whether or not you should wait a while until fewer people are present at that place.

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Artificial Intelligence algorithms

Verhaert’s AILab trained the AI algorithms to calculate the number of people present in any space and detect how many of them are wearing face masks. What about the security and protection of private data? The cameras’ live feed never leaves the AI system. The edge AI device treats the information locally and only transfers processed and anonymous data to the dashboard. No human being sees, stores or transfers any images, safeguarding everyone’s identity and privacy.

Hai is about our health

The online platform is a tool to organize ourselves and our spaces, it doesn’t judge individuals. It allows us to access real-time information from anywhere to make informed consent whether or not to enter a room. Hai will display the total number of people in an area versus the maximum quantity allowed. Additionally, it creates a heat map of “close-encounters” (distance less than 1.5 meters) giving valuable information for cleaning, disinfecting, optimizing walking flows, and detecting bottlenecks.

Hai is about you

Hai will recognize in the near future  your gestures, so if you wave hello to the camera or raise a thumb, Hai will respond interactively. The digital platform has been created to demonstrate how AI technology can help us in managing our presence and common spaces better during COVID. Ensuring we all stay safe, not only at home.

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About VERHAERT

Since 1969, Verhaert Masters in Innovation has pioneered the field of product innovation. As a leading innovation group in integrated product development, Verhaert assists companies and entrepreneurs in the development and implementation of successful innovation processes. The group now has more than 200 employees with offices in Kruibeke, Gentbrugge, Kortrijk, Nivelles, Noordwijk, Utrecht and Aveiro.

For more information, please visit our website.

Contact
Nicky Sterck, Communicatie Verhaert Masters in Innovation
T +32 3 250 19 00 – M +32 491 24 98 64 – nicky.sterck@verhaert.com Jochem Grietens, Coordinator AILab at Verhaert Masters in Innovation
T +32 3 250 19 00 – jochem.grietens@verhaert.com

You can visit Verhaert at their website and follow them via their social media channels

This is a press release from the Verhaert Team

Lung Diagnostics Startup ArtiQ Keeps Innovating During Pandemic

Leuven-based startup ArtiQ has had plenty to keep them busy these last months. Using artificial intelligence-based software, ArtiQ.PFT, they help doctors interpret pulmonary function tests and improve the diagnostic environment for respiratory diseases. As the covid-19 pandemic hit, their lung diagnostic innovation has found fertile ground.

lung diagnostic testing in a hospital

Lung diagnostics innovation in the time of Corona

Recently, ArtiQ CEO and co-founder Marko Topalovic wrote about how he and his team have been tackling the Covid-19 pandemic for Eureca (European Respiratory Cluster Antwerp). In his article, Marko explains how the pandemic shifted ArtiQ’s focus somewhat.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all lung function tests were shut down during a certain time. Now hospitals are restarting their practice and lung function tests can be used to monitor the progression of the disease,” he writes.

After requests from doctors inundated by pandemic patients, Marko and the team decided to offer their software free of licensing fees until September. As such, their diagnostic AI technology is increasingly being used to follow-up on patients, in addition to its original intention to help with initial diagnoses.

ArtiQ.PFT, is already used in the interpretation of more than 50.000 lung function tests in UZ Leuven, CHU Saint-Pierre, OLV Aalst and ZOL Genk.

Marko Topalovic

Following Patient Roadmaps

As Covid-19 patients leave hospitals, they’re increasingly visiting their primary care doctors for check ups. This means that non-hospital healthcare providers are in more need of lung care technology. In response, ArtiQ is looking to move out of hospitals, too, and is actively working on bringing their technological support to GPs.

“ArtiQ plans to integrate AI-expertise with spirometry to support GPs in identifying lung diseases and improving their decision making,” Marko states. “In the future, such tool may play an important role in the follow-up of COVID-19 patients on the GP level.”

A stethoscope lying on a cloth

ArtiQ in drug development

Given the success they’re seeing in patient follow-up, the team at ArtiQ is also looking into expanding their technologies into pharmaceuticals and drug development. They’re specifically looking to bring their technology to clinical trials and improving quality control of lung function measurements.

As Marko explains, “In respiratory drug development, lung function is the primary clinical tool to assess the efficiency of treatment. Therefore, it is critical for pharmaceutical companies and the success of their clinical trials that the results of these tests are consistent and reliable.” ArtiQ’s new AI-based software can do just this.

Using AI to improve healthcare

Ultimately, it’s the AI ArtiQ integrates and innovates that’s making the big difference. The ArtiQ team is profoundly aware of the changes AI is bringing to the healthcare system. As they see it, using artificial intelligence in healthcare can provide tangible support for healthcare workers. Three top examples, elaborated in a recent blog post. include:

  1. Providing consistent decision support for healthcare providers, especially where large amounts of data are involved
  2. Reducing the administrative burden so that healthcare professionals spend less time on paperwork
  3. Creating more time to focus on human interaction. The preceding two will allow health professionals to have more time with patients and for meaningful collaborations with colleagues

You can visit ArtiQ at their website and follow them via their social media channels

Pandemic Work Rhythms: Moonbird takes a look at the new “business as usual”

There’s no doubt that the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has changed our lives. Of course, it has most heavily affected those directly infected, their families, and those caring for the sick. But the pandemic has affected – and will continue to affect – everyone and every facet of society, not least of which is our work rhythms.

The effects of the 2020 global pandemic on work rhythms and societal norms was the subject of a recent piece written by Karen Borremans, resident clinical psychologist at Flemish startup Moonbird. Her essay, which you can read in Dutch here, asked the big questions facing employers and employees alike these days: “Are we going to go back to the ‘normal’ work rhythm? What lessons are we learning? What will be different?”

Changes from every direction

A major theme that Karen highlights is change. We all had to change our daily life and adjust our rhythms when the pandemic and the lock downs started. Now that lock downs are lifting (and in some places being reinstated), there’s whole new sets of changes.

She points out that just because we’re adjusting back to work doesn’t mean that it’s not an adjustment. What’s more, nothing is going back to exactly the way it was. So no matter what, we’re still having to figure out new ways of working. At the same time, we’re also still figuring out new ways of playing, moving, traveling, and everything else. As official measures are revised, what we can and cannot do changes. Nothing is secure or permanent. This is challenging at the best of times, let alone in a stressful situation that has serious implications for our health.

As we transition back to a less locked down work rhythm, individuals need to be mindful of their mental health. We need to introspect, take time to breathe, and allow our emotions room so that they don’t overwhelm us. Karen further points out that we need to pay attention to our physical well-being as much as our mental: relaxation and balance need to be combined with movement and healthy eating and sleeping habits.

She specifies, “Try not to be too hard on yourself . . . Define your limits and expectations, but be flexible and adjust your expectations over time. Take the time to consider what is feasible and what is not.”

Employers’ efforts to help re-establish post pandemic work rhythms

Companies, too, can play a role in easing the transition from lock down, even as they face financial difficulties in the face of the pandemic’s economic impact. “Especially at this moment employers have to find a balance between task orientation and people orientation,” Karen writes. “For organizations it will therefore be a question of finding a balance between their economic capital and the ‘mental capital’ of their employees.”

All the new ways of working that we’ve developed during the crisis do not necessarily have to be suddenly taken off the table. It’s not a black and white story. The crisis also created many opportunities: for example, in mobility or through more teleworking. Within organizations, there need to be discussions about which positive aspects of the crisis can be retained in order to increase productivity.

Karen Borremans, (Moonbird) Clinical Psychologist

Above all, it’s about paying attention to each other. Organizations need to create an environment at work that allows for Covid-19 adjustments aside from extra hand gel and spacing between desks. Senior colleagues should be cognizant of how much they ask of employees, and be watchful for signs of stress and anxiety. Flexibility will be the name of the game as we all try to re-establish work-life balances.

Tips & Tricks for employers and colleagues

Karen spells out some concrete actions we can be aware of in our working world, both as employers and coworkers, to help make the post lock down transition smoother:

  • “Regularly do individual face-to-face check-ins: ask before a meeting how someone is really doing, how that person feels with the current situation.” This might feel invasive, but knowing how a colleague is really feeling can help inform how we handle the work environment.
  • “Show understanding for someone’s feelings and look for appropriate measures: a better work-life balance, maybe more teleworking for more days, sliding hours, slowly rebuild the workload, balance productivity with capacity and adjust someone’s tasks, Or, if necessary, referral for appropriate (mental help) such as an internal confidential counselor, external prevention advisor or psychologist.”
  • “Be a role model for your employees: show how you can work on our mental well-being, spread actions and set up activities. Ask those responsible to explain how they actively do this, and teams will be more likely to try it out. Moreover, you create a culture where it is okay to feel less than great and you rid mental well-being of its taboo.”
  • “(Transparent) communication: it may be necessary to adjust the existing guidelines and procedures relating to sick leave, teleworking and welfare policy. A clear framework with a transparent communication plan helps for everyone. Plan individual one-on-one meetings between managers and employees, and facilitate networking between colleagues.”

About Moonbird

Flemish start-up Moonbird is focused on your breath. Well, they’re focused on helping you focus on your breath so that you can relax. Through a combination of biomedical sciences and clinical psychology, the team of four is working hard on digital technology-driven solutions to help us all calm down a little. You can check out their website and their forthcoming breathing exercise device here.

Moonbird logo
Visit Moonbird at their website and follow them via their social media channels

Flexlines presents progress at Flexible Electronics and Smart Textiles Seminar

flexible electronics
By Shirine Irani, DSP Valley

Our Flexlines consortium was present at the DSP Valley seminar Flexible Electronics and Smart Textiles on 15 November 2019. The workshop focused on Flexible Electronics in general and Smart Textiles more specifically. DSP Valley has been key in        bringing together companies (SMEs) and research actors necessary to advance this exciting domain.

Continue reading “Flexlines presents progress at Flexible Electronics and Smart Textiles Seminar”

HEART project: industry-driven & interdisciplinary R&D for secure smart health applications

By Koustabh Dolui, Chetanya Puri, Hans Hallez, Dimitri Van Landuyt, Sam Michiels, Bart Vanrumste, Greet Bilsen, Heereen Shim, Oleksandr Tomashchuk, KU Leuven (Contact author: Sam Michiels <sam.michiels@cs.kuleuven.be>)

Preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy is critical because the risks for both mother and child are severe. Yet, doing so in an accurate way, from the early phase of pregnancy and without harming fundamental privacy rights is far from trivial. Continue reading “HEART project: industry-driven & interdisciplinary R&D for secure smart health applications”

Technical Highlights from Flexlines One-Stop-Shop Concept

by DSP Valley, TNO, and imec

At the Advanced Engineering 2019 Conference, Romano Hoofman (imec), Nikolas Papadopoulos (imec) and Auke Jisk Kronemeijer (TNO) shared their insights on the one-stop-shop concept and the role of this shop in the local ecosystem. They also demonstrated the progress in design capabilities and showed some examples of functionalities that can be realized with flexible TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) technology.

Serving the cross-border region

Flexlines is an Interreg project with a consortium of leading partners in the Netherlands-Belgium cross-border region. The consortium is setting up a pilot line for the realization of Flexible Electronics prototypes, in order to serve interested parties in the cross-border region to get acquainted with the (im)possibilities of Flexible Electronics. The project, started in 2018, has taken some clear steps forward.

One front desk

A piece of flexible electronic between two fingers

The aim is to create easy access to the fabrication of flexible electronics prototypes. Academia and companies can contact a single ’front desk’ with their requests regarding possible functional demonstrators based on Flexible Electronics. This way they can have their ideas fabricated in flexible and cheap electronics applications. The main emphasis will be on parties who are unfamiliar with underlying technologies.

Multi-customer project services will be developed for flexible electronics. This makes it possible to lower the fabrication cost by sharing multiple customer prototypes on the same production run.

An info-graphic depicting a typical ecosystem
Fig 1: a typical ecosystem (c) imec

Technical highlights

Thin-film electronics and Hybrid Printed Electronics for IoT provide endless possibilities: for instance wearable health patches, thin-film electronics in products for user interaction, ‘smart shelves’ in shops, displays, lighting… Compared to Silicon, TFT deployments are much more extensive, yet much cheaper.

A graph depicting Silicon v. TFT flexible IoT circuit foundries
Fig 2: Flexible IoT circuit foundries; Silicon v. TFT (c) imec

The project partners have established clear links in the workflows from Initial Contact Request over Prototype Design to the Realization of the (integration of) Electronics in a Final Demonstrator. Technical development has also resulted in some highlights:

    • A Process Design Kit (PDK) has been realized by imec and KU Leuven to streamline the electronic design
    • The quality of electronics components from the GEN1 TFT Pilot Line at TNO has been improved using a Lean Six Sigma methodology

  • The compatibility of Integration Technologies such as Injection Moulding and Thermoforming with the core Flexible TFT Technology is under investigation
  • Holst Centre has realized a Transparent Fingerprint Scanner demonstrator, gaining the ‘Best Prototype Award’ at the leading display conference and exhibition SID Display Week 2019 in San Jose in May 2019

Holst Centre R&D pilot line facilities
Fig 3: Holst Centre© GEN1 R&D Pilot Line Facilities

Flexlines will continue to establish its workflows and alignment in the technical domain within its consortium, in order to be ready for requests from partners in due time.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Auke Jisk Kronemeijer, TNO – Project research activities, GEN1 TFT Pilot Line
Mr Romano Hoofman, imec – One-stop-shop
Mr Kris Myny and Nikolas Papadopoulos, imec – Design

 Flexlines and Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland logos

Smart Health Patches to run smart

smart Health Patches

Aiming to participate at this year’s METRO Marathon in Düsseldorf on April 28, sixteen runners are in the midst of preparation. All of the runners are equipped with stick-on smart Health Patches using cutting edge printed electronics. These patches are worn 24/7 and do continuously measure and record motion (IMU), electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiration (RES).

by Henkel, Byteflies and Quad Industries

Preparing for a 42-km race is stretching the capabilities of the human body and the Health Patch makes the journey towards the marathon more safe, personalized and efficient.

Three companies have engaged to develop the smart Health Patch for this project: Henkel, a multinational bringing expertise in functional materials used in the patch, Quad Industries, a Belgian SME specialized in printed electronics and the manufacturing thereof and Byteflies, a Belgian wearable health startup with extensive experience in the design and production of high-quality and versatile wearable devices. On April 11, at the IDTechEx Show, they were rewarded for their efforts. With the smart Health Patch they won this year’s award for the Best New Wearable Technology Device.

smart Health Patches 2
Athlete wearing the smart Health Patch.

Reusable Sensor Dot

The smart Health Patch consists of a peel-and-stick disposable part that is adhered to the skin on the chest, and a reusable part, the Byteflies Sensor Dot that snaps into the sticker. Battery, communication and data storage is all included into the Sensor Dot that can be used up to 24 hours, after which the dot must be put in a docking station to recharge and transmit the data to the cloud.

The disposable patch is designed and manufactured by Quad Industries using Henkel’s innovative printed electronic conductive inks. The patch is a two lead ECG device that can be worn up to 24 hours currently using standard electrolyte gel to capture the ECG signal from the heart. Moving forward the electrolyte gel will be replaced by Henkel’s new, self-adhering dry electrode technology allowing the patch can be worn continuously for a week before renewing the disposable sticker. Skin-friendly adhesives robustly stick the patch to the chest and cause no itching or irritation. Stretchable conductive silver inks transport the electrical signal to the Sensor Dot while allowing the sticker to stretch while breathing.

smart Health Patches 2
Exploded view of the Health Patch showing the different materials used.

Conductive inks and ultra-thin, breathable TPU substrate

The complete device is built on an ultra-thin, breathable TPU substrate that is laminated against a high-end sport textile. Henkel provides all the functional materials to enable the patch to function. These range from skin adhesive over conductive ink to print electronic circuits to next generation electrode materials. Quad Industries has overcome many challenges to integrate printed circuits on skin-compatible materials, including automated screen printing and handling of these stretchable substrates, skin adhesive and electrode integration, textile lamination and reliable interconnection technologies. These developments enable Quad to offer a full new range of printed electronic solutions and to serve new markets for wearable sensor and electronics applications.

The Sensor Dot, the software platform and the cloud storage with data analysis are performed by Byteflies. This health-tech company has built up a team of specialists in the field of wearable health, Machine Learning, and the development of digital biomarkers. With a proprietary platform to set up wearable health solutions instantly, Byteflies targets companies that want to push new wearable technology to the market, researchers that are looking for new ways to monitor patients, and pharmaceutical companies that are making the transition towards a value-based healthcare model.

By doing this project the group of companies hope to bundle their expertise and expand it specifically in the area of on body wearable devices that will revolutionize the healthcare sector in the years ahead.

smart Health Patches 4
Magnetic connection between the Sensor Dot and the Health Patch.

smart Health Patches 5
Docking station charging 5 Sensor Dots.

What insights does the smart Health Patch provide?

On top of the standard heart rate (HR), the athlete will get a clear overview of other vital signs that are hardly monitored by existing wearables (e.g. smart watches). Heart rate variability (HRV) for example is a very important parameter indicating general fitness and stress levels of the body. Also, a much more accurate determination of VO2max (maximal oxygen consumption) is possible using the Health Patch. Next to that, the ECG and respiration waveforms can be analyzed for more accurate insights into, for example, cardiac function, sleep apnea and sleep patterns. Overall, this makes the Health Patch a much more complete monitoring solution as it records continuously, and guides the runner towards optimal recuperation period based on individual vital signs.

smart Health Patches 6
Measured ECG signal.

Contact information:

CoolGrow®VF, your flexible Growers Platform

MechaTronix

When the lights are out, it looks like a regular grow-rack. However, inside is a specially developed type of diffuse glass, containing both LED lights and a reflecting mirror. This new equipment, the CoolGrow VF developed by MechaTronix, makes it possible to do dynamic LED research in an affordable way.

by MechaTronix

“There aren’t many products available that make research with LED affordable, of high quality and flexible”, Koen Vangorp, CEO with Mechatronix, explains. “We’ve seen there are many opportunities with grow lights – but what we’ve seen most is that there’s so much more to discover.”

More control

With their newly developed CoolGrow VF, the company offers a solution to this. The light recipe offered to the plants is completely dynamic. “Both the light level and the spectrum can be adjusted via the new Bluetooth Mesh technology. A grower can set the amount of red, blue, far-red and green light with his mobile phone. All data is saved securely in the cloud”, Koen shows. The choice for green instead of white lights was made to give growers even more control. “White of course is comprised of blue and phosphor. If you want to do research right, you’ll want to steer the blue light separately, and that’s not possible if you’re working with white light. Also to me, it is important to create a working atmosphere that’s as comfortable as possible to employees. Therefore you’ll want to include the green light as well.”

A grower can set the amount of red, blue, far-red and green light with his mobile phone.

Diffused glass

But enough about the research lights – time to discover the technique inside. Remarkable about the CoolGrow VF is how the LED lights are assembled within a layer of diffused glass. “This way the distance from the plants to the LEDs can be shortened and the irradiation is as uniform as possible. If we would have placed the LEDs on a bar, there would be an overlay and we would have to realize a 20 cm distance to the plants.” According to Koen, there’s a second advantage to the use of diffused glass. “By diffusing the light, the light penetrates into the crop deeper. To optimize results, we want the spectrum to get in touch with the crop’s complete morphology. And that’s what we’re able to do thanks to the diffused glass.” Thanks to glass producer Scheuten, now the LEDs are placed within this double layered glass. “Stogger from the Netherlands was behind the development of the technology and the wireless controls. We’ve partnered with Chesswise to create a cloud solution and store the data online.”

Reflecting the plants light

Then there’s another secret hidden within the glass. The CoolGrow is equipped with a reflective coating inside the glass, reflecting the light that the plant itself reflects. “When talking about vertical farms, ROI is the first thing that comes to your mind. We know the plant reflects about 10-15% of the light they achieve. On top of that, certainly with young crops, there is a lot of intercanopy space, which also can reflect a lot of light. If you talk about 100 mmol, this easily leads to up to 40 mmol being lost. By re-reflecting all this light through the glass, the profitability of the lights goes up with 20%.” According to Koen, this will not influence the spectrum being used.

By re-reflecting all the light through the glass, the profitability of the lights goes up with 20%.

Sensors for research

The CoolControls Bluetooth technology also logs the temperature per panel, and allows adding various sensors like PAR sensors, humidity and EC. “Therefore growers don’t need expensive sensors but can start with their research right away. And of course when you operate a vertical farm, you want to be able to see what’s going on in every part of the operation – something that can be quite difficult when you work with numbers of racks and floors.” Focusing on upscaling as well is why the CoolGrow VF plates are 1.20 by 75 cm. “We’ve decided not to follow the standard size of a Danish trolley, but to use the size of a Euro pallet. In the end you want to build warehouses, and the price of the complete installation is what counts.”

MechaTronix 2

Optimum growing recipe

When talking to Koen about the new research tool, it’s clear he’s proud of the equipment – but the technique isn’t his goal. “These research lights are a tool into enabling growers and breeders to work with LEDs. The possibilities with LEDs are endless. The first step would be creating the optimum growing recipe – what works best for the plant. The next step would be a dynamic model, where the various plant phases are taken into account. The results can be further optimized when steered dynamically. We’ve seen this with strawberries for example: waking them up slowly in the morning and not adding 10% far red light all day but adjusting it to the plant’s response gives better results.”

With Coolgrow you can create the optimum growing recipe for you plants.

Also in his research goals, there’s the combination of IPM with grow lights. “We now know there’s a relationship between IPM and grow lights – but there’s more to discover. Could we also remove plagues with the use of light? Optimize the use of IPM? And in this, it’s about finding the balance between combating and avoiding plagues while not disturbing the plant’s growth. For example with UV lights or blue light, we might be able to avoid harmful insects, but adding too much might damage the crop growth cycle. The same goes for mildew: it can be combated with UV-C, but what will the plants’ response be? Finding out how we can use this information in the cultivation – that’s our next dream. With affordable and dynamic research solutions, we make it easier to get there.”

Contact: Patrick Casteleyn, Head of Global Sales

Flanders invests in personalized medicine

personalized medicine

Flemish Minister for Innovation Philippe Muyters wants to encourage the Flemish bio, nano and med- tech sector to capture opportunities in the transformation of personalized medicine.

The potential is huge, for the patients and the sector alike. A total of 10 million euros has been set aside to support valuable projects.

Flanders.health is taking the lead in organizing a cluster. DSP Valley is one of the founding partners.

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