In 2016, Bernardo Marques' Virtual Reality (VR) gamification approach to physiological assessment impressed the judges and earned him 2nd place at Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge. The solution proposed modulating the response of spider phobic individuals using levels with different VR stimulus exposure supporting hand interaction, with the virtual reality environment - spiders included - after which the individual’s reaction was acquired synchronously for post processing.
The idea is currently patent pending in Portugal. After Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge, it went on to be developed in partnership with University of Aveiro, DETI, DEP, IEETA and CINTESIS. This multidisciplinary approach to development, the researcher explains, involves engineering, biomedicine and psychology.
Besides devoting time to the project, Bernardo Marques is also a Research Grant holder at Smart Green Home, a project born out of a partnership between University of Aveiro and Bosch Termotecnologia S.A. He is also attending the first year of a Doctoral program in Computer Engineering at University of Aveiro.
Looking back, he characterizes his experience participating in the Challenge as overwhelmingly positive. "Anyone who has been involved in the development of a research idea understands the many obstacles that are inherent to the process. But participants leave Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge with the feeling that it is worth investing in these ideas, that we do have the ability to make a difference and contribute to the improvement of the lives of others", he says.
Bernardo Marques also leaves some advice for future contestants: "Participate! You'll be recognized for your work and you'll be opening new doors for your future".
Can one anticipate which web content items will be highly popular and use such predictions to significantly improve the recommendations of content to users? That’s what Nuno Moniz set out to discover, and thus he created a new predictive strategy to rank web content based on social media popularity. This was the solution that in 2017 won 2nd place in the PhD category of Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge.
Nowadays, Nuno Moniz is a Visiting Professor at University of Porto’s Faculty of Sciences and a researcher at INESC TEC. The idea that won him recognition in 2017 is still in development, and he is currently working on validating the predictive strategy on a scientific level.
“Participating in the Challenge was great”, he says. “I found the stage process very interesting, as it forced me to look at the project from perspectives I hadn’t even thought of, as I was focused only on the scientific part”.
Another interesting result of his participation, he tells us, was the media attention he received after winning. Not only was it another kind of validation of the merit of his idea, it also allowed him to “talk with the people who make the news, which are at the centre of my project”.
“Amazing” is the word João Monteiro uses to describe his experience during the Challenge.
In 2017 the 2nd place of the McS category was awarded to João Monteiro and his app HealthTalks, which functions as a management system of personal medical information and aims to improve the communication between doctor and patient by providing information about medical terms.
We caught up with João Monteiro, who is currently working on further developing the app at INESC TEC. At the moment, besides working on new features for the app, the team is gathering feedback from medical professionals as well as testing the solution in a real life environment, and things are looking up for the app’s future.
“The app wouldn’t have had the reach it did any other way”, says the researcher. “The Challenge publicized our project, and we received contacts from all over the country to talk about the app. There were even university papers written about it!”.
To anyone considering participating, he says: do it! “I was fearful at first, convinced I wasn’t going to be chosen and that must be a ton of better projects that mine… but at the end of the day I got up In the podium!”