Looking back at the i3B symposium

Looking back at the i3B Annual Symposium

Thursday, 8 December, 2016

On Thursday November 25, I3B - a network of high-tech companies and knowledge institutes aimed at joint research & development and commercialization of innovative ICT solutions -  held its 5th annual symposium.

Smart Cities and an Active Lifestyle

This year’s symposium was built around the theme of Smart Cities and an Active Lifestyle. How can cities stimulate and facilitate their citizens to be active with exercising in the city? How can technology support city councils to influence healthy behavior in the city? What are the latest insights on motivating people toward an active lifestyle?

The afternoon was filled with interesting speakers, a panel discussion, product demos, and research posters. Around 70 guests took the opportunity to be inspired by the renowned speakers and to be connected to government advisors and employees, entrepreneurs, and scientists in the field.

Four inspiring talks

Ger Baron, Chief Technology Officer Amsterdam, focused his talk around the question of how can cities utilize smart solutions to support citizens in an active lifestyle? He started his talk by commenting that he wanted to become more active and pursue an active lifestyle after turning 40. Time flies, Ger!

Ger Baron, Chief Technology Officer Amsterdam

His talk was inspiring in that it showed how the city of Amsterdam is facilitating its citizens in an active lifestyle by analyzing, for example, data from Runkeeper, an app that tracks workouts. The city optimized certain popular routes so people no longer have to wait for a traffic light. New technology and more data also means that the city is much more effective in evaluating interventions.
A new campaign can be evaluated one week after the intervention and effects (or the lack thereof) can thus be measured almost instantly. It seems to us that behavioral data gathered by many different apps or websites gives the government the insights they need to be more effective. 

Ger closed his talk with the statement that continuous change is possible because data is available. That supports all entrepreneurs and scientists working on the latest technologies in sensors, networks, and applications.

Jan Peter Larsen, Director Sense Health & Sense Labs BV,
introduced his company and talked about how they specialize in using readily-available sensory data. Sensors are everywhere; we make daily use of them. Don’t we all have a thermometer and a balance scale at home? More and more we measure our blood pressure ourselves, or we determine our blood sugar; we capture our activities or sleeping hours in an app on our smartphones. Jan Peter explains to us that a human being uses in average of 2.9 devices, including wearables.

Smart cities and an active lifestyle

All the data that can be collected by these and other sensors enables health care providers to connect with precisely that what is important for the individual patient. They call this “smart coaching”. Sensor data provides insights into behavior. Jan Peter gave an example about how Sense Health & Sense Labs is now looking into home-monitoring of heart patients so they are able to leave the hospital earlier. Monitoring occurs through patches that measure all kind of physiological data. Personalized support to empower healthy behavior is priority number one!

Henri Bal, Professor, Computer Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, posed the question: What are the developments in sensor technology and smart coaching? We looked forward to hearing more about smart coaching since Noldus is also often involved in research projects in which giving real-time feedback is key to a coaching application. You want to be coached in the moment, not afterwards. Henri Bal talked about the SWAN project,  which aims at building a scalable and robust sensing framework for smartphones.

With the help of such a framework, application developers can easily build context-based apps in the field of health care, transportation, fire, and safety etc. For example, runners could receive real-time feedback about their performance. Not only feedback on time and distance, but a virtual coach that can help you prevent injuries by informing you about frequencies and the length of your paces. Another great example of measuring behavior and influencing it using technology is in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam where they placed beacons to try to influence behavior of people visiting the park.

Koen Breedveld, Director, Mulier Institute / Professor Sport Sociology and Sport Policy, Radboud University Nijmegen, the last speaker of the afternoon, brought with him the latest insights on behavior change in an active lifestyle. He started to warm up the audience (mostly Dutch) by saying that The Netherlands has the most sport clubs of all European countries, and that we (the Dutch) also have a more active lifestyle compared to other Europeans.

Professor Breedveld shows us that in the past 50 years people behavior towards an active lifestyle increased until 10 years ago when growth started to flatten. Data analysis shows us that highly educated people have a more active lifestyle. This gap between well-educated and less-educated people seems difficult to breach, but it is important to remember that there are also other groups that are hard to motivate to adopt an active lifestyle: people aged 30-40 with no room left in their agenda for an extra activity, people with a disability, and the elderly, to name a few.

Our new business developer at Noldus, Anouk den Hamer, also attended the i3B symposium, and mentions that Koen Breedveld indicated that 1 out of 3 people has some kind of movement app on their smart phone. Cyclists and runners are particularly keen on tracking their performance. Anouk is currently studying the sports and healthcare market to discover opportunities for Noldus IT to cooperate with other entrepreneurs or universities on developing new technologies and solutions. She notices that these apps are downloaded by people who exercise anyway and not by the people who eat fries while slouching down on the couch. Could this be an area for research and study?

Noldus is a member in the i3B network to learn more about these challenges and spot opportunities for cooperation in the development of new tools and solutions.