Sensing Spaces

Challenge: How can we empower the individuals to affect their surroundings by using a combination of environmental data and interpretations of human behaviors? And how could we enhance this with context‐aware, personalized and anticipatory services on e.g. well being, security and safety?

While systems already exist for making the home and industrial workplaces more comfortable and productive, everyday work spaces like offices, small shops, and hotels do not have good access to these solutions. Unfortunately, this means that for most Facility Managers, knowledge of what is happening inside the buildings they manage is almost non-existent. Our solution, therefore, focused on getting information from the building to the Facility Manager.

We decided to use sound to capture the sonic biorhythm of the entire space which allows an intelligent software application to detect when things go wrong, many times even before the failures become expensive problems. We also created an easy way for the people within the buildings to tell the Facility Manager what is happening from a human perspective. By combining these two information gathering methods, our solution gives the Facility Manager a holistic view of the buildings they manage in order to prevent, maintain, and improve the quality of everyday spaces.

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How would you help autistic kids to learn social skills? Edumind concept is the outcome of one of the first two challenges launched by Challenge Based innovation Course (CBI) in collaboration with CERN.

The multidisciplinary student team discovered that autistic children need a specific environment for comfortably interacting and learning together with their peers – and, almost as a side product, acquire intuitive social skills. The Edumind concept is an educational platform that combines the benefits of the tangible and the digital worlds for meeting these needs.



Physical mind is a learning platform for autistic kids for acquiring intuitive social skills during school days. Bearing in mind the characteristically low tolerance for
unexpected, uncontrollable situations, our aim was to create a structured framework for lowering the threshold for social initiation and collaborative learning. The platform consists of a multi-touch surface with a tangible user interface – intelligent blocks adjusting audio, visual and tactile feedback to users’ responses andthus optimizing the level of difficulty for both players.


Social skills through therapy activities

Tangible mind is a collaborative platform opportune for teaching therapy activities such as the Theory of mind within the school environment. The benefits of using a computer assisted platform with a tangible user interface is the identification of different users, making it possible to:


  • Track responses and keep all stakeholders – parents, teachers and therapists, updated about the child’s progress.
  • Based on responses, adjust to the user’s level in real time by varying the amount, speed, intensity and type of prompt.
  • Carry on the activity together with another child of a different level.
  • Maintain motivation by providing the ideal level of difficulty for both participants.
  • Overall, reduce the time needed for the child-therapist interaction and thus make the therapy affordable to more users.


The multisensorial platform (multitouch table and EDUblocks) offer a more engaging media for teaching the Theory of Mind protocol:


  • Through physical activity, the platform allows the children to participate in narrating theory-of-mind-related sequences.
  • The child’s own involvement supports relating to the stories and makes the therapy more interesting.
  • Collaborative activity with concrete objects augments attention to the other participant’s actions, needs and beliefs, which adds a new dimension in learning the theory of mind.
  • The adjustability and variance of prompts (visual, tactile and audio) contributes in making the learning more efficient.


Social skills through real-life practice

In parallel to the therapy activities, we propose adding a new dimension to learning social skills through real-life interaction with peers. Resulting in our field research in autistic schools and families, we found out that autistic children have a high threshold for approaching and maintaining relations with other kids due to the fear of unpredictable social situations.

This challenge could be overcome by providing a safe, controlled environment for familiarizing with peer-interaction. The Tangible Mind framework is based on a supportive the software – learning activities with turn-taking and collaborative exercises – with the feeling of control enabled by the physical platform. Nonetheless, in order to prepare for spontaneous social interaction, our aim is to eventually remove the dependency of technology by step-by-step fading away the framework.

Besides, the EDUs could have a great advantage for attracting joint attention and mutual awareness between the participants during the activity, making it possible to learn to pick up natural social cues. Our tangible user-interface is especially suitable for children, presenting intuitive, natural ways for learning and trying out new things.


Augmented reality

In the future, we think that presenting the support to the social situations through augmented reality overlay, for example by pairing unobtrusive AR glasses with the learning platform would help in overcoming this challenge. As advancement from the currently proposed shared 2D-platform with a tangible user interface, an augmented reality space projected between the kids could bring the interaction closer to the eye-level and natural social interaction, as well as underline the shared activity


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Overall we have arrived to a learning solution that has the potential to revolutionize the way people learn from each other in organizations. We have successfully used TALENT as an extreme user group that faces major communication challenges since they work in one of the most complicated projects ever attempted. Our solution to their needs and issues works and takes communication and learning to the 10.1 level.

The process on how this was achieved is a mess and we would actually argue that our success is not dependent on the process. The way how we arrived to the gala with CMPRSSD was more dependent on the environment we were working at and the team we were working with, rather than the the steps we took to arrive to the end. The people who worked to make CMPRSSD happen deserve the credit and the way those people came together as team.

How it happened is unclear, however beer and wine was involved. In the end it is all about the people, people who are motivated and passionate about what they are doing. Furthermore, people need a place that motivates and inspires them. We could not think of a more inspiring place than CERN to work at, even though architecturally not the most eye catching place we have seen. The passion people at CERN share towards their work is catching. We were inspired to be part of CERN and act as a tool to share the knowledge generated by CERN to society.

However, is this the end for our team and for CMPRSSD? No this is the beginning. Several options exists, we plan to continue working with CMPRSSD at least in some way. We are entering the concept into competitions in order to get some initial funding. By gaining funding we could continue the development of CMPRSSD and in the end offer it as a product that helps organizations to revolutionize the way they communicate and learn.

Download the project documentation