Imec showcases latest bright ideas in Antwerp


The Imec Technology Forum in Antwerp is a hunting ground for virtual reality, driverless vehicles, artificial intelligence and other life-changing innovations

Altered realities

Imec, the Leuven-based digital technology research centre, holds its annual celebration of all things smart in Antwerp this week. The Imec Technology Forum, which kicks off today, includes inspiring international speakers from the world of technology and showcases some of the bright ideas being developed by imec’s own researchers.

Speakers this year include Thomas Muller of Audi, who will talk about driverless cars and the future of mobility, and Jan Rabaey from the University of California at Berkeley, whose subject is the possible symbiosis of biological and electronic systems.

Pattie Maes of the MIT Media Lab will ask how artificial intelligence can make sense of the sea of data we are all now swimming in, and even make decisions for itself. And Irwin Jacobs, chief executive of semi-conductor giant Qualcomm, will receive a lifetime innovation award.

Breaking new ground in virtual reality

In the exhibition hall, imec will give the first demonstrations of a prototype augmented reality/virtual reality headset, which it claims breaks new ground by minutely measuring eye movements (pictured). “The glasses provide a better virtual experience because we have built in wireless technology for electro-oculography,” the organisation explained. “This new technology is also very interesting for research into neurodegenerative diseases.”

Some 50 innovations and prototypes will be presented, from new solar energy cells to wearable technology that monitors health and stress. There will also be methods for preventing the electronic systems built into cars from being hacked, advanced sensors for measuring air and water quality and numerous innovative solutions for the smart, liveable city.

Around 10 of these projects have been developed locally in Antwerp, where residents have been part of a living laboratory testing systems such as smart traffic lights for safer road crossing, an app intended to make parking easier in the city and real-time air quality monitoring.

Photo courtesy imec