Fachgruppensitzung Technik 2021

Organizers: Susanne Brucksch (DIJ), Cosima Wagner (FU Berlin)

Introductory Note: Exoskeletal Devices: Between science fiction and science facts (Denisa Butnaru, Dept. for History and Sociology, Universität Konstanz)

Exoskeletal devices are technologies currently developed to assist and augment motor functions for both healthy as well as impaired users. They are thus designed to cover needs in rehabilitation, industry, and armed forces. Recently the project of assisting old persons has also been evoked (Hitt & Schneider 2019). Whereas developments of this technology carried in rehabilitation have more success, those that target industrial and military applications confront both designers and users with more difficulties. Among some models of exoskeletal devices, HAL, which is developed in Japan, aims along with other projects conducted in Europe and USA in rehabilitative robotics, to redraw contemporary conceptions of ability but also of impairment. Because exoskeletons are both designed for healthy and impaired people, the perception of this type of technological object may perturb. While using empirical examples from a qualitative sociological research conducted between 2014 and 2021, the intention of this presentation was to highlight how current models of exoskeletal devices concretely transform specific capacities of their users in rehabilitation. In so doing, it redraw more obviously the line between fictional representations of these technologies spread by popular culture and the reality of experienced facts. The arguments relied on excerpts from narrative and expert interviews, that were correlated to categories from contemporary developments in phenomenology. Especially those of “enactment” and “embodiment” provided an important basis to discuss empirical cases (Caronia & Mortari 2015; Gallagher 2017) related to uses and applications of technological objects.

Can Geographic Information System aid care professionals and older people living in communities? Exploration of ideas for a research project (Mina Ishimaru, Graduate School of Nursing, Chiba University; Naonori Kodate, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin)

Globally, healthy ageing and the protection of older people have been on the policy agenda. The policy framework for healthy ageing, also known as active ageing, was developed in 2002, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading policy implementation, aiming to achieve its goals by 2030. Internationally, while Japan is known as a healthy country with many centenarians, ‘healthy ageing’ has not necessarily been achieved across the country. This presentation was intended share the research project ideas, which look at the potential use of Geographic Information System (GIS) as a way of supporting care professionals and older people living in Chiba Prefecture as a testing site. Chiba ranks 5th in Japan in terms of rapid growth in the proportion of older population. Chiba prefecture is a microcosm of Japan, with urban and rural areas as well as fishing villages. The number of older people living alone and households with only older couples are expected to increase further, and the problems of lonely death and eldercare require not only the expansion of long-term care services, but also the support of local communities. There are several studies carried out in Japan in relation to the use of technologies in health and social care. For example, telehealth services (Brucksch, 2020) and living labs (Kimura et al., 2020) have been presented and discussed in the previous workshops. This presentation considered the potential use of technology (GIS) for care professionals who support older people living in the communities, present research ideas for the purpose of brainstorming with the workshop participants. It  discussed the ethical aspects of using assistive technologies, and explored difficulties of conducting this type of research. 

Technical innovations in the health care sector: Challenges and risks of co-creative approaches using the example of the project DigiVid19 (Katharina Dalko, Medizinische Fakultät, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg; Sebastian Hofstetter, Medizinische Fakultät, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg)

The technologization of health care is a core measure applied – for instance in Germany and Japan – to counter urgent problems such as demographic changes and the shortage of skilled workers. It is a well-known problem however that technical innovations in the field of health care are often developed past the actual needs of care professionals and those affected. In recent years, therefore, interdisciplinary and participatory approaches to technology development have been established. The aims of these approaches are to ensure a needs-oriented functionality and design of digital aids and to enhance user acceptance.

Corresponding concepts are on the other hand accompanied by various hurdles and risks implied by the collaboration of different disciplines and industries as well as the involvement of end users as part of the technical development. The presentation therefore addressed the question: What challenges and risks arise from the implementation of co-creative approaches to technology development from the perspective of health and nursing science?

First, a co-creative and iterative development process were outlined using the example of the project DigiVid19. The project serves to implement a digital rehabilitation program through virtual reality, which is being developed jointly by health and nursing science, a physiotherapeutic practice and experts from the field of multimedia design. Furthermore, patient groups will be involved throughout the development process. In a second step, challenges and risks of co-creative technology development from the perspective of health and nursing science were discussed. First results have shown the importance of translation, meaning the mediation between perspectives, which is necessary to prevent obstacles resulting from different working methods, terminologies and expectations. In addition, the project partners› individual aims and understanding of their own roles are highly relevant.

Experiences from the presented project provide important clues for the implementation and further development of co-creative approaches, which could be the key to developing practical solutions for the crisis-ridden health care sector in Germany and beyond.

Educating our engineers and designers to solve wicked environmental and social problems (Kevin Delaney, Mechanical and Design Engineering, TU Dublin)

We now expect much more of our engineering and design graduates when they enter the workforce than we did in the past. The ability to solve technical problems is still the price of entry but it’s insufficient to be truly successful in today’s workplace. Students must be capable of addressing ill-defined problems with difficult trade-offs; wicked problems of the type which face society today. One such problem relates to the environment. Societal expectations, political policies and accreditation bodies increasingly demand learning outcomes relating to sustainability to be integrated into university programs and as educators we have had to respond. This presentation outlined the drivers for this and reports on the characteristics needed of new graduates to equip them for success once they graduate and enter industry. It went on to explain our efforts to educate our engineers and designers to be more effective in solving wicked problems and in so doing prepare our students to make a more significant contribution to creating a sustainable future.

The Aftermath of Tokyo Games and the future of mega-events (Ross Cheung, School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

This presentation discussed the dispute of the Tokyo Olympic Games and its implication to future mega-events. When the global pandemic makes business no longer not as usual, the demonstrations and petitions against the Tokyo Games reflect netizens› and citizens› impact on society. Because of the intervention of the Internet and social media, what happened in Tokyo will not stay in Tokyo. The aftermath of Tokyo might change the format of the Dubai World Expo and the Qatar FIFA World Cup. Perhaps it is a high time to reflect on the role of international organisation and the impacts of technology, together with the lessons from the pandemic, it may reform the future mega-events. The turn of the twenty-first century’s mega-events may go virtual which might transform the tourism and performance industries.