Tech Talk

Artificial Intelligence

Facebook increasingly influences how we view the world. We see the opinions of our friends responding to news that may or may not be fake. But which messages we see first and which messages remain hidden is all controlled by algorithms. Algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence. And these algorithms are the work of a large research team led by Professor Yann LeCun. LeCun, thereby is one of the leading technologists behind one of the largest companies in the world. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg recognized that his ideas could really boost Facebook, when LeCun was building a formidable reputation in the academic world with his convolutional neural networks, and when already almost all handwritten checks are processed by his algorithms, but when the link between social media and AI was still unexplored. Meanwhile, social media controlled by AI are influencing our lives every day.

Philips, Signify and the TU/e awarded Yann LeCun the prestigious Holst Memorial Medial 2018. Radio4Brainport’s Jean-Paul Linnartz spoke to him on his visit to Eindhoven.

Photonics, Wireless Optical Communication, LiFi Podcasts

At the Optical Wireless Communications Conference 2022, Prof. Harald Haas gave a keynote speech on the role of LiFi in 6G . We look back and looks forward into the challenges and the promises of using light to communicate wirelessly. Faster and more secure access to the internet by avoiding the congested radio waves. Lifi can unlock terabit per second connectivity, but is “speed” the only performance indicator? How will the technology develop now that the first generations of systems are already in the market. How does LiFi for consumer mass markets differ essentially from shooting laser beams to satellites.

Professor Haas coined the term “Li-Fi” at his 2011 TED Global Talk where he introduced the idea of “wireless data from every light”. The interview was conducted by Jean-Paul Linnartz, not only reporter for Radio 4 Brainport but also TPC Chairman of the OWCC 2022 in the MikroCenterum in Veldhoven, Professor in Wireless and Signal Processing Communications at TU Eindhoven himself and Research Fellow with Signify.

EU Project Podcasts

The EU project LoLiPoP IoT develops Energy Harvesting/micro-power management solutions for Wireless IoT edge devices that enable long battery life sensors to be retrofitted on, in or near equipment and infrastructure. Wireless sensors are the key technology platform to enable us to collect data that will be used for anomaly detection, efficiency and performance monitoring. The trillion-sensor economy of 2025 gives us unprecedented opportunities to exploit such data bringing billions of € in savings and disruptive benefits for industry and society (reduced carbons emission, increased renewable integration, making the world a safer and better-connected place).

Drivers of Change at DDW

Air flow, spread of COVID

March 2020, Radio 4 Brainport was one the first media in to address the risk of spreading COVID by aerosols. Is social distancing of 1.5 meter adequate to avoid Corona infections? According to an alarming MIT paper, the corona virus may be carried by much smaller particles the heavy droplet assumed thus far. The 1.5 meter norm appears to have been based om models for tuberrculose, but COVID behaves differently.  At Radio 4 Brainport we ask an expert in air flows, Professor Bert Blocken, about whether air flows pose an unprecedented risk in the spraed of the Virus.

After our first-in-the-Netherlands media report on the risks that COVID seems to spread via aerosols, Radio 4 Brainport had another chance to speak to Prof. Bert Blocken. Time for an update.

Two years after our interview in March 2020, we know much more about how COVID spreads, but it has taken far too long before virologists and even the WHO took aerosols seriously. By now, the aerosol route is generally accepted as a serious risk. We now know that viruses cannot hop from one aerosol to another, but can travel far via directly exhaled aerosols when people cough, sneeze or just sing. There remains discussion about whether delayed infections can occur via air conditioning ducts that keep circulating the same air for prolonged periods. But it is clear that properly controlled air flow and air cleaning can avoid many infections that would occur in poorly ventilated rooms.

Scientific research addressed two stages: the airflow engineering research on the reduction of the risk of circulating infected aerosols and the medical virologists research question of to what extent small amounts of aerosols can still infect people.

Bert Blocken was heavily disappointed by how media, politicians but even scientists from other disciplinesmisinterpreted properly conducted engineering research. In particular, the engineering community has developed theories that are later used as common knowledge and common sense. One would not have to hypothesis-test the fundamental laws of physics. Nonetheless, there seems a lot of unjustified criticism to properly conducted research work. More seriously, he missed the acknowledgements from decision makers and even from scientists that certain things were not known at an early stage of the pandemic. It took the World Health Organization 16 monthsto take the aerosol risks seriously.

But not all air cleaners are effective. Bert Blocken does not see it as a professor’s role to recommend specific products, but he sees an urgent need for the public to know what systems are effective and which are poorly performing. He recommends and urges governments and the EU to swiftly come with certification of aircleaning products.

These and more insightful stories, ..  directly from the real Bert Blocken. Also, we hear about his personal journey of being a subject of debate, and even being impersonated on social media.

Reducing the risk of infection heavily depends on ventilation. A wide-spread misperception is that the best ventilation is natural ventilation. Well-designed buildings have mechanical ventilation that can effectively reduce infection risks. Indeed, controlled airflows are the most efficient, and are a proven technology in residential and other buildings worldwide. In addition, air cleaning is a proven technology as well, used in professional environments such as surgery rooms and clean rooms. In addition, UV disinfection can wipe out viruses in upper air areas in the room. In the interview with Radio 4 Brainport, Prof Blocken dives into details of how these systems can reduce viral load. In fact, at a series of schools in Belgium and the Netherlands, air cleaners are being installed in a new project.