Using ICT innovations for a healthier society

Fontys Information and Communication Technology

Promoting healthy lives with smart innovations

In May 2017, Fontys joined the Vitality Living Lab project as a knowledge partner of the Interaction Design lectureship. This is an initiative of Cluster Sports & Technology, to contribute to a healthy and vital life in the Brainport region through innovation, start-ups and business development. Over the past four years, Fontys has carried out various applied research projects for this purpose, some of the highlights of which will be presented at the ELIS Innovation Summit on 8 December.

Technology for a healthier society

The Vitality Living Lab is a broad project, with a large number of partners who work together on the basis of a diversity of innovation cases in order to promote vitality through sport and exercise with a focus on innovation, but also on the innovation processes and cycle itself. Fontys University of Applied Sciences ICT worked on various innovation projects: "Ultimately, all those subprojects serve one goal, namely how can you keep people healthy and vital in environments such as public spaces, sports and work, but also at school and at home." explains Bart van Gennip, one of the programme leaders and programme coordinator for Research & Innovation at Fontys. Initially, Fontys' role in this was small: "To put it briefly, within these smaller projects we offered application-based technological support, for example in the development of an app, data visualization, and so on. Suppose a party wants to make an app, then we help with that."

From data platform to ecosystem

Together with Van Gennip, Ferry Wonders is in charge of the project management at Fontys University of Applied Sciences and is coordinator of the Digital Experience Design minor. He indicates that considerable changes have taken place in the Vitality Living Lab project: "Initially, Fontys focused on contributing to a data platform with which you could provide insight into vitality. What we have found out in the past few years is that data is an important starting point for initiatives, but not the goal in itself." Van Gennip, also coordinator of the Data Driven Business Lab Minor, collaborated on the data platform. Gradually, the parties involved came to realise that a data platform should not be the goal in itself "A data platform turned out to be a utopia as the solution to the larger issue. The bottom line is that data must drive innovation, it validates whether something works or not, but it is also the accelerator for new needs. It has a cyclical role in an ongoing process and thus enables a knowledge ecosystem."

Match between research and education

Within Fontys, work is mainly done by students, Ferry Wonders explains: "Within our research-based education, we always worked in 20-week periods. Because a partnership such as Vitality Living Lab is ongoing, it fits in very well with the research-based learning that we do within the ICT study programme. We do work in semesters, but through good knowledge transfer the next group of students can further develop an application." The exception is the subproject Music Enabled Running. A group of researchers is developing an application that uses musical cues to correct running behaviour. Other projects are carried out by students. Wonders: "Our students take one step further each time. One group of students works on the data side. Another group is working on the interface and visualisation based on their expertise. In addition, you are always working with different partners, which means you are constantly working in a different way. So there is a very good match between our way of teaching and the Vitality Living Lab project."

Elis Innovation Hub

This calendar year the Vitality Living Lab project ends. A number of research projects have been successfully completed, others are ongoing and will be continued within the ELIS Innovation Hub that has been launched. To conclude and as a start of this, on 8 December, various outcomes will be presented during the Elis Innovation Summit, including the Music Enabled Running project. Van Gennip is looking forward to a continuation: "Now that the cooperation is running, we also know better what we are good at and where our added value lies. That is in applied research, interwoven with education. And whether it's about artificial intelligence or game design, we have that knowledge in-house."

The Elis Innovation Summit, formerly the Sport Innovation Congress, will take place on 8 December 2021 at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. Fontys will give several presentations here and be available for questions on the exhibition floor. More information can be found here.