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Engineering our digital society

Anyone using a smartphone app could tell you that digital technologies have gained an immense influence on our everyday lives.

Today, we are passing a tipping point, beyond which it is no longer we who are using digital technologies to influence and shape our surroundings, but our digitalized surroundings are shaping and manipulating us. Digitalization is forming entirely new worlds – car-to-car networks, Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, eHealth. Reaching into the very fabric of society, it is redistributing power, shaking up our notions of privacy, identity, democracy.

OUR SCIENTISTS AND THEIR RESEARCH

Digitalization is spreading further and deeper into society every day. Here are three examples of exciting developments in which UT scientists are playing a leading role in areas ranging from identity recognition and behaviour prediction to training autistic children and devising smart energy solutions.

Recognizing and Predicting with Big Data

Big data are a hot topic, but their real value is not always evident. Researchers from the Data Science group at the UT are at the forefront of exploring the potential of big data. Raymond Veldhuis and his colleagues have developed a system that, using on a digital photo, can determine with up to 80% accuracy whether the person on the photo is a CEO..

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Robot Zeno Helps Autistic Kids and their Caregivers

If you want to know how far we’ve come in the development of social robots, check out a robot called Zeno. According to UT scientist Vanessa Evers, Zeno is one of the most advanced robots of his kind in the world. Zeno helps autistic children to recognize and express emotions. 

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Batteries that Scavenge their own Energy

A shoe sensor that draws energy from footsteps, a water sensor that draws energy from the flow of water. In a new research programme called ZERO, UT scientist Boudewijn Haverkort has teamed up with scientists from the universities of Delft and Eindhoven and the business community to create ‘energy-autonomous, ultra-low power devices that scavenge their own energy’. Why? 

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Technical development, societal integration

As a university of technology, we embrace the leading role of ICT in the digitalization of society in all of our research, education and technology valorization. Far from seeing it as a stand-alone specialization, however, we have robustly integrated our hard-core ICT expertise with our non-ICT disciplines, from behavioural sciences, healthcare and governance to transport and logistics, geo information systems and industry. This cross-disciplinary, High Tech, Human Touch mindset is part of what drives us in our pursuit of societal impact. Our main challenges are:

  • Building digital systems we can justifiably rely on and use intuitively
  • Integration of digitalized systems in our environment
  • Well-informed decision making and explainable data analytics

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Spinoffs

For the third time in a row we were named the most entrepeneurial university in the Netherlands. We are succesful in translating our knowledge into economic activity: we've helped over a thousand spinoffs to get going. A few examples:

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