Today’s college and university students’ fresh ideas contribute to the innovative, leading-edging technologies of the future.
As head of innovation at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, an Open Innovation1 approach is particularly close to my heart. I truly believe it fosters the development of a culture of partnership and knowledge sharing, as well as accelerating the development of innovative services through rapid access to third-party technology and knowledge.
Most importantly, however, I believe Open Innovation provides an inexhaustible opportunity for serendipity, an inexplicable and elusive concept enabling innovation to occur where and when you least expect it. Even when a problem or scenario has been considered from every angle, partners from different cultures or areas of expertise — including students, who provide a different generational perspective — often transform the vision of the project, resulting in the emergence of innovative ideas far removed from the initial proposal.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has long embraced the opportunity to work with universities to challenge students on technological and societal issues related to our business and strategic sectors. The candour and fresh ideas provided by students who tackle the challenges offer invaluable insights into the subjects at hand. Additionally, their digital know-how, and cultural acuity are essential to address today's real-life societal challenges.
In 2021 and 2022, we asked two groups of students from the Télécom Physique Strasbourg — a leading engineering school within the University of Strasbourg, and a strategic partner of the Institut Mines-Télécom — to explore the use and possible integration of technologies associated with a home patient monitoring scenario. As a supplier of real-time collaboration and connectivity solutions, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is a major player in the health and e-health sector. The challenge was to understand the technological dependencies and associated risks, and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible solutions.
The first group was tasked with producing a demonstration illustrating the integration of an end-to-end medical data collection chain, as well as explain how the data would be shared, in a scenario that included the patient, the hospital, the attending physician and a caregiver. The project demonstrated the automatic collection of physiological constants such as temperature, blood pressure and oxygen saturation using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) gateway connected to the patient's internet box. It was also able to illustrate the use of the RainbowTM by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise platform when a risk situation was detected (for example, an abnormal rise in temperature), to enable the stakeholders to connect with each other to optimise the patient care.
The second group, in the 2022 project, were tasked with continuing the exploration begun in 2021 with a focus on two aspects:
• Reducing the intrusiveness of the solution to promote acceptance of the new technologies
• Extending the range of functionalities to ensure patient monitoring
The brief given to the students was to optimise the accelerometric data generated when patients move around their homes (for example, data collected using a smartphone or wristband). The main advantage of this type of sensor, unlike a camera, was greater respect for privacy. The second pertained to the digital frugality of the data generated, with regard to reducing the bandwidth needed to transmit it. Several ideas were considered, such as estimating physical activity and visualising progress in the recovery process. However, the students focused mainly on fall detection. The challenge for them was to come up with a complete solution for collecting and analysing data to automatically detect a fall and trigger an alert to the parties involved (doctor, home nurse and caregiver).
In this type of project, where the Design Thinking approach is at the heart of the process, the technological development carried out by the students is not as important as the prototype that makes the initial idea or concept tangible. The prototype provides a common language for all stakeholders , whether they are from industry, academia, customers or users. It allows a story to be created, so that it can be challenged taking into consideration everyone's needs and constraints. The format of the student projects proposed by Telecom Physique Strasbourg is well suited to this approach, which explores both use and technology scenarios. The quality of the videos produced by the students to assess their work allows the Design Thinking process to continue even after the project has been completed, a huge advantages innovation managers cannot afford to pass up.
Learn more about ALE solutions for the healthcare sector.