The regional stage of the International Forum Falling Walls Lab took place within the framework of U-NOVUS Forum in Tomsk. The best speakers are going to the final, which will be held in Berlin on November 8.
Tomsk will be represented at the final by German Shnaider and the project “VR Movement”.
Falling Walls Lab is an international forum for a new generation of outstanding innovators and creative thinkers. The aim of the forum is to promote extraordinary ideas and to bring together promising scientists and entrepreneurs from all fields at a global level. Participants will have the opportunity to present their research work, business models, or enterprise to colleagues and the high-ranking jury consisting of experts from the academic and business community, and the general public in 3 minutes.
Each year, different educational institutions are invited to organize their own “Falling Walls Laboratory” and demonstrate the quality, diversity and passion of the most innovative professionals in their region. This is the first qualification phase of the whole project. One hundred finalists win the opportunity to attend the “Falling Walls Conference” in Germany, where they will meet with leading experts from the fields of science, business, and politics. Three winners of the final in Berlin will be awarded the title “Young Innovator of the Year”, receive cash prizes and have the opportunity to present their idea on the big stage of the Falling Walls conference.
The international network of Falling Walls Labs includes well-known academic institutions from more than 60 countries. Stanford University, ETH Zurich, and the University of Tokyo are just some of the universities that have participated in the Falling Walls Lab program.
In 2018, more than 3,000 applications were submitted in 77 laboratories of Falling Walls, which took place in 57 countries around the world. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), supported by the German Foreign Office, conducted 33 of these laboratories. In Russia, the regional stage of the “Falling Walls Lab” took place in only five cities, including Tomsk.
In Tomsk, the winner was the “VR Movement” team, which presented a “virtual training assistant” — an app for smartphones and VR headsets, whose task is to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system after a stroke and spinal injuries.
The target audience of the project is hospitals, private rehabilitation centers and sanatorium based specialized departments for patients with spinal cord injuries, and musculoskeletal system diseases, and individuals with paralyzed musculoskeletal system.
What is the essence of the invention?
German Shnaider, Cybernetic Doctor: – We trick the brain by immersing a person into virtual reality, helping to create a new neural map, and contributing to the formation of a new motor stereotype. Head of the project Nikolay Muraviov is a graphic designer who himself suffered a spinal cord injury 9 years ago and started the project to help people in a similar situation. The first person he attracted was his friend Maxim Zhdanov—an entrepreneur who is currently the project’s Finance Director.
Nikolay Muraviov: – This principle has been known for a long time and is used in medical centers, but the equipment for it is specialized and expensive. These are special VR headsets, gloves and suits with sensors. Our goal is to make rehabilitation available to any person anywhere in the world. Our application is based on the cross-platform engine Unity. All you need to work with it is a smartphone and a mobile VR headset.
So I can download this app to my smartphone and that is enough?
Nikolay Muraviov: – That’s exactly right. This is a necessary minimum for the training. For medical centers, the system can be supplemented with suits with sensors that will track signals that the brain sends to the muscles. But the whole point is the low price and availability of the product. Basically, anyone can get access to rehabilitation, even if they are located in a poor country—they just need access to the Internet and a smartphone.
What does participation in the Falling Walls Lab final give you?
German Shnaider: – First of all, the winners receive cash prizes, which is very important for the project. But above all, we get a platform for the presentation of our product, a serious audience. These are businessmen, scientists, politicians, and government officials. Our hope is to attract partners and investors.
How did you feel about winning at the regional level? Was it a surprise to you?
German Shnaider: – I don’t want to lie—it was very nice, but we can’t say it was a surprise. We were focused on victory and already won competitions such as:
- First Federal Hackathon “Cyber Russia” for virtual and mixed reality in 2017;
- Exhibition of scientific and engineering developments of schoolchildren, students and young scientists “Science: Open format” within the framework of Tomsk Oblast Science Week in 2018;
- The best technological solution in the thematic area at the Young Scientists’ Development Competition within the framework of the Forum U-NOVUS-2019.
Why did you choose this subject?
Nikolay Muraviov: – I’m undergoing rehabilitation after a serious spinal injury, so this subject is extremely relevant and interesting to me. As a virtual designer, I have developed an app, but you can’t do without the experts, and German, as a cybernetic doctor, is the perfect team member.
German, do you feel like a Russian German? Are you interested in the family traditions of your ancestors?
German Shnaider: – Absolutely! My grandfather lived in Krasnoarmeysk, a town in Saratov Oblast. He spoke poor Russian and was rather quiet. So when I became interested in my origins and traditions, I started going to the Ust-Kamenogorsk Russian-German house. When I moved to Tomsk, I attended the Russian-German house in Tomsk a little, but studying at the medical university leaves no time for anything else. So I took advantage of your invitation to visit!
Thank you very much for the conversation!