Enabilise: working with users to create new mobility aids

Enabilise is examining how to improve mobility aids such as walking sticks. Photo credit: iStock

Enabilise is examining how to improve mobility aids such as walking sticks. Photo credit: iStock

By Dr Eliza de Vet

How do you imagine yourself as an older person? Are you hunched over your uniform grey walker, fearful of falling, no longer able to bend your knee for a game of lawn bowls?

These are not the images we see for ourselves, but they are scenarios facing older people today. In the next few years, changes to mobility support need to be made, not only for the benefit of future generations, but our own parents and grandparents.

Mobility is key to quality of life, independent living, and physical and mental wellbeing. Maintaining mobility as we age allows us to continue activities as normal, retaining our self-sufficiency and involvement in the community.

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Postcard from Seoul: one step closer to affordable MRI scans

The author at the North Seoul Tower. Photo credit: Dipak Patel

The author at the North Seoul Tower. Photo credit: Dipak Patel

By Dipak Patel

I was really excited as soon as I found out I was awarded with a Global Challenge Travel Scholarship. I wanted to use the scholarship to attend a conference to present my new research outcomes and visit overseas labs to discover new research facilities.

This time, I was preparing myself to attend a Magnet Technology Conference (MT-24) from October 18 to 23 at the COEX, Seoul, South Korea. My abstract was selected for a contributed oral presentation on a development of the ‘Superconducting Joining Process’ for a magnesium diboride superconductor. This technology is considered as one of the key technology for realising affordable MRI machines.

Before the conference started, I wanted to see some places in Seoul and know South Korean people as much as I could. Thus, I reached Seoul on October 16.

I had a stopover at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I was impressed with the typical Vietnamese ladies dress. I saw most of the ladies at the airport wear the same pattern traditional Vietnamese dress, which I hadn’t seen anywhere before.

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Postcard from Scotland: Talking bras with biomechanists

By Celeste Coltman, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow's West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow’s West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

With the help of a Global Challenges Travel Scholarship, I attended the 25th Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Glasgow, Scotland. The conference, which was held on July 12-16, is the largest meeting of biomechanists in the world.

I arrived to a cold, wet and rather bleak Glasgow, smack bang in the middle of the Scottish summer, which was not too different to Wollongong in July.

The Scottish are certainly not lucky enough to enjoy the summers that we get, but what they lack in weather they make up for in character.

My Nan is Scottish, but it was actually my first time to Scotland, nonetheless, the accent certainly was very familiar.

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Notes from the road: finding inspiration in Israel

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

By Global Challenges PhD Scholar Irit Alony

A trio of special guests was about to visit Israel at the end of May 2014, probably representing three very different interest groups. It was a relatively peaceful time, and Pope Francis was about to pay a visit to the Holy Land. Relatively low security threats made the singer Justin Timberlake and his crew comfortable enough to have a huge concert in HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv, which is only a few hundred metres from Tel Aviv University.

Those few hundred metres were significant for me – where the third person was visiting.

A far less well-known visitor, but far more meaningful to me, was the world-guru of complementary currency, Professor Bernard Lietaer. Continue reading

VIDEO: A Conversation With … Dr Allan Rennie

Dr Allan Rennie from Lancaster University.

Dr Allan Rennie from Lancaster University.

In the latest video from Global Challenges A Conversation With … series, Professor Geoffrey Spinks chats to Dr Allan Rennie.

The Conversation was held in September, when Dr Rennie, a engineering from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, visited the University of Wollongong.

Dr Rennie, an expert in product development, is an external researcher on the Global Challenges project, Re-Energising the Illawarra Through Additive Manufacturing, which explores how the Illawarra can become an emerging hub for new technology. The project is inspired by similar initiatives in Ohio in the United States, and Lancaster in north-west England.

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VIDEO: A Conversation With Professor Geoffrey Brooks

 

Professor Geoffrey Brooks, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Swinburne University of Technology.

Professor Geoffrey Brooks, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Swinburne University of Technology.

Professor Geoffrey Brooks, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Future Manufacturing) at Swinburne University of Technology, sat down with Global Challenges Manufacturing Innovation leader, Professor Geoffrey Spinks, in July as part of the A Conversation With series.

The event, held in front of a large audience of students and academics, was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the current state of the manufacturing industry and what’s in store for the future.

Professor Brooks spoke about his career, his interest in the manufacturing sector, and why industries must innovate to survive.

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Postcard from Singapore: how Quality of Experience can improve our lives

The author discussing an evaluation of reconstruction filters for a path-searching task in 3D.

Jacob Donley (right) discussing an evaluation of reconstruction filters for a path-searching task in 3D.

By Jacob Donley and Associate Professor Christian Ritz

There is a global challenge that exists today and will likely continue for years to come: How can we improve the quality of our experiences when using technological products and services so that in return we improve our lives?

How can we control the emotional impact that these technological products and services have on us?

What is the degree of delight and/or annoyance we experience when using these in our daily life?

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VIDEO: A Conversation with Dr Tim Edensor Part 3

TimEdensorPart3What role does light play in society? How does the relationship between light and dark create a sense of place and what is meant by the term “geography of illumination”?

In June, the Global Challenges Program hosted its first public conversation, a new series that aims to introduce the audience to an academic and their work in a relaxed, informal setting.

Dr Tim Edensor, a cultural geographer from Manchester Metropolitan University, was the subject of the first A Conversation With. Dr Edensor is currently investigating the concept of light and dark, and was visiting Australia to see Sydney’s acclaimed Vivid Festival.

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Dementia-Friendly Communities: Kiama public lecture a success

By India Lloyd

Speakers Kate Swaffer and Veda Meneghetti at the public lecture held at Kiama Anglican Church.

Speakers Kate Swaffer and Veda Meneghetti at the public lecture held at Kiama Anglican Church.

Kiama is one of the first communities in Australia set to become dementia friendly, and hundreds of people turned out to a public lecture last week to find out exactly how the initiative will be implemented.

Research and Action to Pioneer Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations, a collaboration between the Global Challenges Program and Alzheimer’s Australia, aims to help the Kiama community respond to the challenges that stem from the debilitating illness of dementia.

Kiama Anglican Church was full on Tuesday, September 16, the crowd a mixture of ages, as members of the community listened to experts in the field of dementia and people living with dementia share their experience and vision for the region.

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Innovation Works! finalists developing cost-friendly electronic circuits

By India Lloyd

PhD student Joseph Giorgio, who is part of an Innovation Works! finalist team working on new electronic circuits. Photo credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science

PhD student Joseph Giorgio, who is part of an Innovation Works! finalist team working on new electronic circuits. Photo credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science

Electronic tags are everywhere in modern life. From the supermarket, to our cars and offices, and even our pets, electronic tags are used to store and access information, track movements of goods, and even allow contactless payment.

But the technology is expensive and only able to be used on a small range of materials. Until now.

A team of UOW students is investigating how to embed electronic circuits, or RFID (radio-frequency identification), into cheaper materials, such as paper and cling wrap.

The project is part of Innovation Works!, a joint initiative between the Global Challenges Program and the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) that helps students develop prototypes of new products.

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