Anglia Ruskin duo’s 60-hour Swiss challenge

Published: 12 October 2016 at 13:00

Dr Domenico Vicinanza

Scientists will lead elite team at special CERN event to create working prototype

Two Anglia Ruskin University scientists will lead a team featuring some of the world’s brightest and most creative young minds as they attempt to develop a revolutionary way of using sound to help with rehabilitation and physiotherapy – in just 60 hours!

The Port 2016, which is being described as a “humanitarian hackathon”, will take place this weekend (14-16 October) at the Geneva headquarters of CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider. 

The event, which aims to “build working prototypes and tangible solutions for real-life humanitarian problems”, is organised by CERN in collaboration with the United Nations, the Red Cross and other NGOs.

Dr Genevieve Williams and Dr Domenico Vicinanza [pictured] have been selected to lead one of the eight teams taking part after the organisers were impressed by their idea for combining sonification, which involves converting data into sound, with movement science and smart health sensors.

Dr Williams, co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, is excited at the prospect of producing a working prototype by the end of the weekend.  She said: 

“Movement is key to recovery from injuries, as well as helping with disabilities and supporting healthy ageing. 

“However, the precise execution of exercises and physiotherapy is really important.  This is fairly straightforward when under the watchful eye of a physiotherapist, but can be difficult when carrying out exercises alone at home. 

“For the hackathon, we submitted a proposal called ‘Sonification & Gamification of Physiotherapy’ which focuses on the rehabilitation of the hand and arm, for example in stroke patients, by using audio feedback created through real-time sonification. 

“We believe the audio feedback and computer gaming elements could provide motivation, as well as an accurate reference for patients to carry out physiotherapy exercises on their own.  Assisted by a really first-rate team of engineers, computer scientists and innovation experts, hopefully we can make it happen this weekend!”

Dr Vicinanza, Director of Anglia Ruskin’s Sound And Game Engineering (SAGE) Research Group and technical trainer at the European network GEANT, added: 

“Through sonification and innovative electronic sensors, the patient generates melodies and sounds in response to their movements. 

“In addition, sharing data over networks would enable people to exercise together, which is particularly meaningful or powerful for ageing populations or people who are isolated because of physical problems or disabilities.  Data sharing would also allow physiotherapists to monitor them remotely, tailoring the program to their actual progress.

“We’re really proud to be representing Anglia Ruskin in Switzerland.  We hope that by combining physiotherapy, movement science, technology and music, we can create something that makes a real difference to people’s lives.”