Visit to Japan from the EU coordinator

The European coordinator of the project Rainer Wieching from the University of Siegen went to Japan from the 10th to the 20th of September 2022, to visit the Japanese partners and to participate with them in the working meetings on crucial topics for this phase of development of the project.

The visit started in Tokyo to meet the colleagues from WASEDA University, developing 2 devices used in e-VITA, DarumaTO and CelesTE. The meeting was an opportunity to provide updates for the re-designed phase of the devices, including safety specifications, a demonstration of the Pillow Prototype and a meeting with Professor Shigeki Sugano, Professor of Engineering degrees in mechanical engineering, from the Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering, School of Creative Science and Engineering.

The visit continued in Tokyo with a meeting in J. F. Oberlin University welcomed by Dr. Shuichiro Watanabe, where colleagues from Tohoku University (Mr.Takamitsu Shinada, Dr. Halima Sultana, and Dr. Toshimi Ogawa, JP coordinator), Gatebox (Mr. Shuji Nishizaki), Waseda University (Dr. Yegang Du), AIST – National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Dr.Keiko Homma), Misawa Homes Institute of Research and Development Co., Ltd (Ms.Asako Ohara) met together on the weekly JP meeting. Topics discussed were the development of the RASA system, the integration of the sensors, and further development of the Human Coach Concept.

Then, Dr. Rainer Wieching and Dr. Toshimi Ogawa, the Japanese coordinator of the project, met at Sendai, where Tohoku University is located. This venue was the opportunity to meet the Digital Arts School, Mr Kazuhiro Sugawara, the director of the school and Mr. Imura, a musician and instructor for digital technology, who has been involved with the research activities at Tohoku by co-creating lectures and educational materials for human coach (left side the picture 3), and also Martin Rathmann from German Materna Company working in Japan.  

The courses offered for older people and for human coaches have been very successful and range from creating a QR code to using a smartphone in a fun way to editing videos that users have taken themselves.  Coaches who have taken its courses now volunteer to teach other senior organizations. The involvement of this private company in the project had an impact on the Sendai Municipality, which helped us contact some districts in Sendai with particularly high populations of older people to participate in the study.

Digital Arts Studios offered to use their nursing home for the Android Study. The coordinators went in the home for a workshop with end user and the care staff with the director of the nursing home. The staff was very interested in the project, through its approach of user-centeredness rather than technology-centeredness.  

The visit in Tohoku University was also the opportunity to visit the Living Labs where experiments from the Work Package 6 on Practice Based Design in Intercultural Living Labs are realised in Japan.

Finally, coordinators met with Local Community of Workers for Human Coaching in the Proof-of-Concept Study.

Coming back to Tokyo, Rainer Wieching met with Dr. Gabriele Trovato from the SHIBAURA Institute of Technology, leader of the Work Package 6, Practice Based Design in Intercultural Living Labs, and Dr. Du Yegang from WASEDA University, who is responsible for DarumaTO and CelesTE developments. The meeting was the opportunity to re-design the hardware and software for both CelesTE and DarumaTO for the Proof-of-Concept study.

Then a meeting was held with Mr. Shuji Nishizaki from GATEBOX for the re-design of the hardware and software of the device for the Proof-of-Concept study.

The coordinator finalized his visit meeting Ms.Asako Ohara from Misawa Homes Institute of Research and Development Co., Ltd.   This was the opportunity to discuss about the dissemination and exploitation activities, and to present an innovative Housing Concept for the Future of Community Dwelling Older Adults in Europe and Japan.