The UPC once again at the Mobile World Congress

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Latest version of the ABO exoskeleton prototype, developed by the UPC’s Biomechanical Engineering (BIOMEC) Lab

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Image of this year’s Mobile World Congress edition

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CiGO’s stand at the MWC

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Herta’s stand at the MWC

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Nearby Computing’s stand at the MWC

An award-winning device for assisting people with hand deformities to eat

Six students from the UPC’s Terrassa School of Industrial, Aerospace and Audiovisual Engineering (ESEIAAT) won the award for the best project in the international competition SDG Challenge by mSchools, organised by the MWC and held within the 4YFN. The students presented a device called uHandle, which allows people with hand deformities to eat independently. The device is specially designed for people living in developing countries, where NGOs can manufacture it with 3D printers and thus keep the cost down.

uHandle is a 9-cm rectangular gadget manufactured by a 3D printer with ABS, a very resistant type of plastic. It features a slot in which to fit the cutlery and is fastened to the patient’s hand by means of a polypropylene band with a hook-and-loop fastener that holds the device, making it possible to adapt it to every user.

The device was designed in collaboration with the dermatologist Montse Pérez, from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, with the aim of allowing those who have leprosy to use conventional cutlery in their daily lives. It also had the support of BCN3D Technologies, a spin-off from the CIM Foundation.

Further information: link.

Several biotechnology and 5G projects backed by the UPC, as well as a number of spin-offs from the University, were presented at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) event, which took place in Barcelona between 25 and 28 February.

Feb 28, 2019

The Assistive Biorobotic Low-Cost Exoskeleton (ABLE), conceived by the Biomechanical Engineering (BIOMEC) Lab of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and developed by BIOMEC’s spin-off ABLE Human Motion, was presented at the 14th edition of 4 Years From Now (4YFN), which was held in Montjuïc at the Fira de Barcelona. ABLE is the first lightweight, easy-to-use and affordable exoskeleton for people with spinal cord injuries that restores the ability to walk naturally and intuitively.

It relies only on the essential mechanisms and sensors to aid patients with lower spinal cord injuries in the functional recovery of walking. ABLE has a knee-motion actuator that acts as an artificial muscle and a sensor located in the area of the tibia that detects the user’s intention to walk. It was designed by BIOMEC, a research group coordinated by the researcher Josep Maria Font and linked to the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre, which belongs to the UPC’s Innovation and Technology Centre.

5G operating theatre and connected car
Two 5G projects were presented at the MWC by the 5G Barcelona consortium, an initiative promoted by the Catalan government, the Barcelona City Council, Mobile World Capital Barcelona, the i2CAT Foundation, the UPC, the Telecommunications Technology Centre of Catalonia and Atos that aims to turn the city of Barcelona into a leading European 5G digital hub.

The first project was a connected car featuring 5G-assisted driving developed by SEAT, Telefónica, Ficosa, ETRA, Qualcomm and 5G Barcelona. The pilot project was tested during the event in three use cases on the streets of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat in order to assess its abilities. The first one was to detect a pedestrian on a zebra crossing: a traffic light detected the presence of pedestrians thanks to a thermographic camera and warned the vehicles via edge computing. The second one was to detect a cyclist when turning to the right: the bicycle, equipped with connectivity features and an ultraprecise locating system, communicated with the cars to report its location and sent a warning in the case of a potential crash. The third one was to detect a car stopped on the road in poor visibility conditions: the stopped car activated the hazard warning lights and automatically warned approaching vehicles.

The second project, called Telestration (created by AIS Channel), was the demonstration of a surgical procedure that was successfully broadcast in real time at the MWC site, from where other surgeons had the chance to guide and advise doctors in the operating theatre at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, which features cutting-edge technology surgical facilities including Optimus, the world’s most advanced operating theatre. The project’s versatility makes it possible to run it in any hospital, and thanks to low-latency 5G communications the procedure can be broadcast in real time and without delays. Vodafone España was the technology partner providing the 5G network for this pilot test, which was the first streamed procedure with a remotely connected team of surgeons in two different locations. This project aims to connect surgeons worldwide so that they can guide surgical procedures without being physically present in the operating theatre.

Showcasing the latest advances in graphene
The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) was also present at the MWC in the Graphene Flagship pavilion, which was set up by the European Commission to bring together academic and industrial researchers with the aim of developing graphene-based technologies. In this pavilion, through more than 20 innovative technologies, visitors got to see how graphene technologies can provide new features, from individual smart devices to the Internet of Things.

The ICFO also showcased four prototypes: a mobile-connected patch that monitors the user’s levels of sun exposure thanks to an ultraviolet light sensor; a sensor that measures heart rate, hydration, oxygen saturation, breathing rate and temperature during physical activities; the world’s smallest single-pixel spectrometer (an instrument used to measure the properties of light) and a hyperspectral imaging sensor, both capable of operating in broadband.

The UPC’s entrepreneurial spirit at the MWC and the 4YFN
Eleven business initiatives created by UPC researchers and alumni were presented at this year’s MWC and 4 Years From Now (4YFN), one of the world’s most important start-up events that brings together the youngest technology companies with the brightest future prospects.

All these spin-offs and start-ups are technology-based companies created with the support of the Innovation Management Service and the Emprèn UPC programme. The following companies attended the 2019 MWC:

· CiGO specialises in the development of fully customised B2B applications to create solutions for smart mobility issues.

· Herta develops security software specialised in real-time face detection and recognition in crowds through IP cameras. It collaborates with the Centre for Language and Speech Technologies and Applications, which belongs to the UPC’s Innovation and Technology Centre.

· Sense4Care specialises in designing, manufacturing and marketing wearables and medical devices aimed at people with special care requirements.

The following companies attended the 4YFN event:

· Abitari created an app with a system to automate routine tasks carried out in hotels, improving customer experience and internal communication between employees. It was in Hall M8, Stand R4.12.

· e-HEALTH Technical Solutions developed the product WIVI, which offers visual health specialists an assessment of a patient’s visual functions and a customised vision training treatment. The company was in Hall M8, Stand A1.6.

· HumanITCare developed a platform for the remote tracking of chronic patients through artificial intelligence. They had a stand of their own in the Catalan government area, in Hall M8.

· ICARIA Medical developed CardioSense, a technology that provides the most accurate existing early cardiovascular diagnosis in less than 60 seconds and is able to transmit the results from anywhere with mobile network coverage. The CardioSense monitor was exhibited in Hall M8, Stand T4.

· MeetOptics is being created in the UPC’s Emprèn facilities. Its activity focuses on facilitating and optimising the purchase of optical components for the research projects of optical researchers and engineers. The company was sharing Stand O2.2 with Catalunya Emprèn in Hall M8.

· Sensorial Processing Technology BCN develops sensory seats with which consumers can interact with audiovisual content such as movies, music and videogames. The company was sharing space with F.Iniciativas in Hall M8, Stand 80.

· Unblur created IRIS, a system that helps officials responsible for decision making in emergency situations by integrating all the information, maps, videos and rescue teams’ location into a single screen. Unblur was sharing Stand P4.6 with Airbus in Hall M8.

The start-up Goin was in charge of giving the 2019 4YFN Awards Barcelona. Created by former UPC students, it devised an application to automate its users’ savings and help them make a profit.

The Emprèn UPC programme, which continues the work initially carried out by the UPC’s Innova Programme, is a pioneering initiative in Catalonia and in Spain focused on promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the university community. Thanks to the Programme, which has been going on for more than 20 years, more than 300 companies have created 4,500 jobs, more than 500 patents have been applied for and more than 200 technologies have been licensed as a result of research.

Blockchain and artificial intelligence

The MWC also hosted the Digital Future Society, a summit held in Barcelona twice a year that brings together outstanding technology thinkers and entrepreneurs. On this occasion, the professor and researcher from the UPC and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center Ulises Cortés participated in the round table “Where emerging tech meets government: blockchain and AI”, which focused on the opportunities that blockchain technology and artificial intelligence bring to improve public services. The event took place on 24 February at the Palau de Congressos in Barcelona.