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JSPS-NRF Asian Science Seminar 2012

Seminar Report

The achievements of the seminar

(1)

Achievement from academic viewpoint:

As described above in the “Purpose of Seminar”, this seminar aimed not only to learn about the advanced academic research in the field of assistive technologies for the elderly, but also to provide the researchers the opportunity to examine and reconsider how the direction, method and evaluation of research should be. The seminar began with the lecture given by Mr. Yasuhiro Yamazaki, who runs a company engaged in the sales of wheelchairs and seating related products and himself uses a wheelchair. He first talked about the lack of mutual understanding between researchers and end users as well as the importance of understanding needs, and then raised the issues about what kinds of assistive technologies would be truly useful for society.

Through his lecture, the participants learned about the assistive technologies for the elderly and the advanced academic researches such as the development of the Smart House and Smart City. They also reaffirmed the importance of “independence support not only by using human hands but also by making full use of technologies”, and the importance of “setting a higher-level purpose able to cope with the coming future age instead of a purpose which can only handle the present situation”, and set their own research projects.” Furthermore, through the experience of visiting the real care house for the elderly and interviewing the residents as fieldwork during the seminar, the participants could recognize the importance of “Needs Finding” and “Design Thinking” in research development concept.

It was great that from this seminar the young researchers of the next generation could understand the importance of “User-centered Design”, where discussions and decision-making are carried out not merely dependent on researcher’s interests or impulses but by the cooperation of researchers and people in multiple academic fields with every viewpoint and also including users. If those researchers will always continue their research activities while keeping the importance of research development concept in their minds, we can really expect their research achievements will truly contribute to the real world.

(2)

Achievement from the viewpoint of international exchange and young researcher training:

In this seminar, those who attended lectures with different cultural backgrounds and research fields were divided into groups of 4 to 5 people, and each group was given a task for field research and group discussion etc. The group discussions and activities naturally lead to active interchanges among the group members, and those interchanges are expected to become sprouting buds for future international cooperative research. Also through their experience of having discussions and then giving a presentation together with researchers from different research institutes and with different cultural backgrounds, participants experienced training for their future participation in international research projects.

In this research field, there are a number of research themes which many countries commonly face and need to solve and international research activities in cooperation with many countries and regions are expected, while “Adjustment” to different cultural backgrounds or social systems is indispensable for such international research activities. In this sense, it was very important for the young researchers of the next generation to gain a mindset for international cooperative researches through the experience of group activities during this seminar.

We anticipate that the achievements obtained from this seminar will benefit not only for the assistive technologies for the elderly but for various researches that become increasingly necessary beyond research fields and cultural backgrounds.

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