2015-09-03 13:32

Unexpected meetings generate unique research

When experts in textiles and material technology from the University of Borås meet experts in information technology from the University of Skövde, exciting things happen. At a research meeting in Borås on 26 August, a robot controlled with the help of a glove was presented, a development that may facilitate humans' interaction with robots and other machines in the future.

Gauss Lee, researcher at the University of Skövde, demonstrated the robot that has been produced as part of the "Design, Textiles and Sustainable Development" theme. A glove made out of smart textiles functions as a means of communication between human and machine. The robot senses when Gauss Lee bends his fingers. This is something that could be used in the future in medical rehabilitation or in industry.

The research team is also working on designing a soft robot and creating a skin of smart textiles in order to increase interaction between human and robot.

"Combining smart textiles with the development of robots is quite unique. We are currently working at prototype level but there is huge societal interest in our work," says Vincent Nierstrasz, professor at the University of Borås and research manager for this theme.


The strategic research cooperation between the universities in Borås and Skövde is organised as four themes: Caring and Well-being, Theme Information and Communication Technology (TIKIT), Design, Textiles and Sustainable Development, and Future Enterprise and New Business Models. The Västra Götaland region is financing two of the four themes.

The funding from the Västra Götaland region was granted in 2012. It took about one year for the cooperation to get started and during the last two years, the research has been conducted in full.

Empowering talks help elderly pain sufferers

During the afternoon, representatives for each theme gave a half-hour presentation on the focus of their research, the results so far, and how they view the future. For example, the researchers working on "Care and Well-being" have done a pilot study where they have trained carers to have empowering talks with elderly people living with chronic pain that has not been helped by medication.

"Before they felt they had to suffer in silence but after a continuous and trustful relationship has been established with the carer, the pain is relieved and they feel more secure. Moreover, they felt they did not need to contact or visit the health care services as much," says Catharina Gillsjö, researcher at the University of Skövde.

Within the same theme, the researchers have also combined lifestyle studies with studies of the genes of healthy elderly people in an attempt to find the key to a long and healthy life.

The meeting of "soft" and "hard" IT

Within TIKT (Theme Information and Communication Technology), researchers have created new interesting and unexpected areas of cooperation between "soft" and "hard" IT. They have started seven different research projects on very varied subjects such as an ambulance training centre, sports analytics and future e-services. Common courses at research level have also been started.

Future Enterprise

The theme "Future Enterprise" and new business models have focused on how the renewal of trade can work as a regional growth engine and how development dynamics can be generated in problematic circumstances. The focus has been on small municipalities in the eastern part of the Västra Götaland region.

Unexpected meetings result in creativity

The meeting was summarised by Björn Brorström, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Borås. He said that these unique research findings are not just the result of a larger critical mass, i.e. that more researchers have been involved thanks to the coperation between the universities. In his opinion, it is unexpected meetings that lead to creativity.

"Now we are hoping for continuity so that this impressive research can proceed," he says.