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Life centric design

Life-Centric Design: Transforming the “Intractable” into “Tractable” through Deeper Understanding of Our Lives

Human capabilities, typically children and the elderly, are always changing. In fields that traditionally deal with "human-centered" technology including human measurement and analysis, systems design, UX/UI design of services, safety engineering, and complex systems science, there is a growing and urgent demand for new methodologies geared to handling the dynamic nature of human beings as they change over time.

At the Life-Centric Design Lab, we use IoT, robotics, AI, and big data to develop a new scientific and technological paradigm for sustainable living. We aim to design solutions that will keep people safe and socially active while accommodating the ongoing changes in our physical and cognitive capabilities.

Through multidisciplinary collaboration with research institutions, government agencies, and living labs (practitioners), we are working to address societal challenges, such as supporting daily living and preventing injuries among children and older adults. Our approach involves developing a range of innovative technologies to drive more significant societal impact, including:

  • Mathematical techniques to model living situations as systems

  • Behavior-based sensing technologies

  • Technologies promoting a non-ergodic understanding of human beings through long-term individual measurements

  • Life modeling and simulation technologies that integrate physiological, behavioral, psychological, and social aspects

  • Empowering technologies that induce more profound behavioral changes by considering underlying factors such as the social determinants of hardship

Laboratory tours and explanations for students applying graduate school

Would you like to join us in conducting research that will change society? If you would like to attend a laboratory tour or explanation session for the graduate school entrance exam, please apply using the form below.

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Recent news

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Newcomer Welcome Party 2024

We held a welcome party for new members with our homemade dishes (pizza, paella).

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A recent paper at an international conference on computer supported education

  • Mikiko Oono, Masaaki Ozaki, Shreesh Babu Thassu Srinivasan, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Effects of Information Granularity on Health Education: An Artificial Intelligence-Based Situational R-Map Analysis," The International Conference on Computer Supported Education, 2024

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A recent paper at an international conference on ambient computing technology

Ryo Shinozawa, Mikiko Oono, Satoko Hotta and Yoshifumi Nishida, "Micro Happiness Episode Data Service for Supporting Well-Being with Dementia," The 15th International Conference on Ambient Systems, March 25 2024

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A new member has joined.

New 4th year bachelor's degree students, 1st year master's degree students, a researcher and technical staff has joined.

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Congratulations graduation.

4th year bachelor's degree students and 2nd year master's degree students graduated on March 26th.

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Ayano Nomura won the Best Student Award in the ESD course.

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Kick-off symposium for Tokyo Safety Review (basic research project)

A kick-off symposium on child injury prevention, which started this year, will be held on March 27th.

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​Newly developed products were exhibited

We presented a newly developed product with body-supporting functions  in Kawasaki Innovation Forum 2024.

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Symposium on welfare innovation

On March 15th, we will report the results of our joint research with Kawasaki City (Kawasaki Welfare Technology Lab).

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Recent published paper

  • Yuki Hashimoto, Soto Tada and Yoshifumi Nishida, Improvement of Environmental Robustness in Non-invasive Core Body Temperature Sensor Studied Numerically and Experimentally, Sensors and Actuators: A. Physical, (2024) doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sna.2024.115136

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Recent published paper

  • Natsuki Shimada, Kota Noto, Koji Kitamura, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Behavior-based understanding of elderly people with dementia: A hierarchical classification of daily object use," 2023 AHFE International Conference on Human Factors in Design, Engineering, and Computing (AHFE 2023 Hawaii Edition), Emerging Technologies in Healthcare and Medicine, Vol. 116, pp. 317–326, 2023

  • Yusuke Miyazaki, Kohei Shoda, Koji Kitamura and Yoshifumi Nishida, "Analysis of Stair-Ascent Activities with Handrail Use in Daily Living Space and Motion Features using RGBD Camera," Proc. of 2023 AHFE International Conference on Human Factors in Design, Engineering, and Computing (AHFE 2023 Hawaii Edition), Emerging Technologies in Healthcare and Medicine, Vol. 116, pp. 8-15, 2023

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Recent published paper (IEEE Sensors2023)

  • Ryuichi Ikeya, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Visual Force Sensor to Estimate External Force Distributions from Shape Deformation," Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Sensors, 2023 

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On September 28th,  the Science Council of Japan has published its opinions on child accident prevention.

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On September 16th, the Science Council of Japan held a symposium  ``Moving to a Safe Society for Children.''

Injuries to children due to accidents occur frequently, and there is an urgent need to create a system that utilizes injury data to reduce the number of injuries to children. The Science Council of Japan's Children's Educational Environment Subcommittee has compiled a draft opinion: ``Promoting data collection and utilization to reduce injuries to children.'' In this symposium, we will introduce the vision of the society we should aim for as expressed in our draft views, and the initiatives underway to realize that vision. Rather than just pointing out issues, we would like to share with participants the new movements that have begun in countries and regions and encourage the creation of networks among related parties as we move forward with social implementation.  

​Our laboratory has been involved in developing the technology that forms the basis of the idea (draft), and we are finally moving towards social implementation.

Click here for the details of the day. 

​Social implementation/community collaboration project

A joint project with Kawasaki City and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).Kawasaki Welltech' started on August 31, 2021.

Opening of Kawasaki Welfare Technology Lab

August 31, 2021

Research Themes: Expanding the Integrated Principles of Artificial Systems from a Human-Centric to a Life-Centric Design

With the arrival of the era of the 100-year lifespan, there is a growing need to build a society that enables individuals experiencing changes in living functions—particularly children and older adults—to lead healthy, safe, and socially active lives. We describe such a society, which would foster resilience to changes in daily living function, as a “living function-resilient society.” Although issues such as health, safety, and participation are currently treated as matters of individual effort, they invariably lie beyond the capabilities of individuals to manage on their own.

 

To solve these critical social problems, it is necessary to understand human beings not simply as individual subjects but rather in terms of their situation within the holistic context of living systems, which includes the real-life settings where such problems arise. In this regard, an indispensable methodology is the integration of new artifacts into actually functioning living systems. Such artifacts would be designed to make complex situations more manageable, thus contributing to the expansion of these living systems. Some of the research themes being tackled by Living-Centric Design, which seeks to create technological systems that can measure, compute, and design living situations, include the following:

 

Sensorization of Deformable Things: Since the 1990s, concepts such as ubiquitous computing, with its sensor-embedded devices, have been evolving under the new name of “the Internet of Things” (IoT). More recently, advancements in affordable depth cameras and machine learning have paved the way for new sensor technologies that can measure human activities based on the deformation of everyday objects. Today, we are moving beyond traditional embedded sensors as we develop new sensor and IoT technologies tailored for an era of new shape measurement techniques.

 

Technologies Promoting the Non-Ergodic Understanding of Human Beings (Technologies for Observing and Understanding Living Situations): Traditionally, research involving an ergodic understanding of human beings typically involved collecting data from many individuals over short periods in laboratories or specialized institutions, on the assumption that the group average would correspond to the time average. However, this approach often struggles with the detection of subtle changes. With the advancement of IoT, it has become possible to collect longitudinal data on individuals, thus enabling the detection of subtle changes on the part of the same individual. We are making use of the capabilities of IoT to produce more nuanced and individualized insights. We develop technologies for understanding living situations based on this new principle.

 

Behavior-Based Technologies for Understanding Living Situations (Technologies for Observing and Understanding Living Situations): In home-based environments, it is now possible to collect data on environmental shapes and bodily postures. This has enabled a behavior-based approach that relies on posture and activity recognition or else categorizes actions without predefined targets using unsupervised learning. This approach is bringing about significant transformations in our understanding of living situations and the development of technologies for living support. With this new behavior-based approach, we are developing technologies for understanding the living situations of populations such as young infants and older adults with dementia. Unlike the robot module behaviors in inclusive architectures of the 1980s and the psychological behaviors studied in the behavioral economics of the early 2000s, we aim to develop a new approach for understanding and modeling everyday life events based on observable behavioral phenomena.

 

Mathematical Techniques for Dealing with Situation: We are developing technologies that enable the observation of human living situations from the perspective of both social and physical phenomena. This involves utilizing semantic big data derived from text and physical data from sensors to analyze living situations. These technologies make it possible to develop a holistic understanding of living situations that enables their replication and prediction, as well as the identification of those that require intervention. This approach goes beyond traditional multi-dimensional multimedia that relies on text, images, and videos to meet a growing need for methodologies that handle systems where both the environment and the people within it are understood as dynamic and ever-changing elements.

 

Episode Engineering Technologies: It was once the case that paper size limited the amount of information that could be conveyed. For example, there was a time when knowledge transfer had to fit on a single sheet of A4-size paper or on both sides at most. This led to the adoption of abstract expressions that only experts could understand and which even they sometimes found incomprehensible. However, with the advent of digitization, information media have significantly changed. The way we represent knowledge is also evolving. Now, with the availability of extensive databases of detailed case (episode) studies, the ability to conduct searches tailored to specific situations constitutes a new form of knowledge presentation that is useful in sites of practice. This approach also offers potential solutions to the challenge of rendering abstract expressions more tangible and comprehensible.

 

Living Simulation Technologies Centered on Life Layer Analysis: Physical simulation techniques such as finite element analysis have long been widely used in the field of mechanical engineering. However, the effective modeling and simulation of living mechanical systems that include humans have not yet been throughly developed. This is primarily due to the lack of dominant equations. Consequently, research tends to shift toward either the micro or macro levels, where such equations do exist, thereby inadvertently moving away from everyday life. By organically integrating the aforementioned themes of non-ergodic understanding, behavior-based understanding, situational mathematical techniques, and episode engineering, we are making progress with the development of simulations that have the ability to computationally represent and manage everyday living situations.

 

Integrating Technologies into Living Systems for Real-Life Applications: Adopting a robust methodology is important to ensure that social implementation is not oversimplified as an issue of attitude (close interaction). A crucial aspect of functioning in actual living environments is having a thorough understanding of real-life conditions. Our research focuses on integrating technologies like biometrics (e.g., the estimation of core body temperatures), which work under real-life conditions, into behavioral, biomechanical, psychological, and living situation models to create unified living systems.

 

Empowering Reality Technologies (Living Design Technologies): When designing living spaces like homes, daycare centers, and long-term care facilities, the traditional approach of proposing various solutions in line with existing problems is no longer sufficient. It is essential that we collect extensive data not only to understand the actual reasons why these proposals often fail to be adopted in real-life settings but also to develop strategies specifically aimed at overcoming these identified challenges. Our research involves gathering data on these “impossible worlds” and developing information presentation technologies and mechanical systems that will facilitate empowerment and practical support.

  

These research initiatives are being advanced through multidisciplinary collaborations with the Childhood Injury Prevention Engineering Council (CIPEC), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital and Institute of Gerontology, the Japan Sport Council, the Tokyo Fire Department, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the cities of Kawasaki and Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture, Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture, and Omura in Nagasaki Prefecture.

 

* “Living Function Resilience” refers to support provided by robots, AI, and social services that enables individuals to maintain safe and healthy social participation even as their physical and cognitive functions change.

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Living situation sensing technology

Wearable sensor for preventing heat stroke

  • Hashimoto Y, Ishihara T, Kuwabara K, Amano T, Togo H (2022), “Wearable Microfluidic Sensor for the Simultaneous and Continuous Monitoring of Local Sweat Rates and Electrolyte Concentrations,” Micromachines, vol. 13, No. 4, 575, doi: 10.3390/mi13040575.

  • Hashimoto Y, Sato R, Takagahara K, Ishihara T, Watanabe K, Togo H (2022), “Validation of Wearable Device Consisting of a Smart Shirt with Built-In Bioelectrodes and a Wireless Transmitter for Heart Rate Monitoring in Light to Moderate Physical Work,” Sensors, Vol.22, No.23, 9241. DOI: 10.3390/s22239241.

This research is partially supported by the following grants.

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Whole-space mapping of body support force field

  • Ayano Nomura, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Visualization of Body Supporting Force Field of the Elderly in Everyday Environment," Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Sensors, 2022

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Understanding the climbing and descending characteristics of multiple elderly people using a stair handrail type IoT sensor at home

  • Moe Hamada, Koji Kitamura, Yoshifumi Nishida, “Ambient understanding of stairway ascension and descension by the elderly using a handrail-based force sensor.” Procedia Computer Science, Vol. 177, pp. 405-414, 2020

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Monitoring of elderly people with dementia using battery-less shoe-shaped position sensor

  • Kazuya Takahashi, Koji Kitamura, Yoshifumi Nishida, Hiroshi Mizoguchi, "Battery-less shoe-type wearable location sensor system for monitoring people with dementia," Proc. of the 13th International Conference on Sensing Technology, pp. 12-15, December 2 2019 (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) (Best Paper Award)

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Vision-based Force Sensor

  • Ryuichi Ikeya, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Visual Force Sensor to Estimate External Force Distributions from Shape Deformation," Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Sensors, 2023 

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Life situation understanding technology (mathematical technology for situation/non-ergodic human understanding technology)

Situational risk visualization using big data

  • Masaaki Ozaki, Yoshifumi Nishida, Tatsuhiro Yamanaka, "Prioritizing Injury Situation to be Prevented Based on AI-Aided Situational R-Map," Injury Prevention, Vol. 28, supple 2, 2022

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Non-ergodic human understanding that enables early detection of frailty and detection of physical function changes to support the daily lives of the elderly

  • Moe Hamada, Koji Kitamura, Yoshifumi Nishida, "Individual and longitudinal trend analysis of stairway gait via ambient measurement using handrail-shaped force sensor," IEEE International Conference on Sensors, 2021

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Behavior-based infant developmental behavioral diagnosis

  • Yoshifumi Nishida, Kento Komori, Miho Nishizaki, "Automated Infant Developmental Stage Estimation Method Using Image Processing and Denver II," Injury Prevention, Vol. 28, supple 2, 2022

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Data-driven infant climbing behavior simulation

  • Tsubasa Nose, Koji Kitamura, Mikiko Oono, Michiko Ohkura and Yoshifumi Nishida, "Data-driven Child Behavior Prediction System Based on Posture Database for Fall Accident Prevention in a Daily Living Space," Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, 2020

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Life situation design technology

Empowering Reality

  • Mikiko Oono, Thassu Srinivasan Shreesh Babu, Yoshifumi Nishida, Tatsuhiro Yamanaka, "Empowering Reality: A New Injury Prevention Education System to Promote the Empowerment of Child Caregivers," The International Journal of Ubiquitous Systems and Pervasive Networks (JUSPN) , Vol. 18 , Issue 1, pp. 01 - 08, 2023

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Life function resilient design

  • Mikiko Oono, Ayano Nomura, Koji Kitamura, Yoshifumi Nishida, Shunsaburo Nakahara,  Hisashi Kawai, "Homeostatic System Design Based on Understanding the Living Environmental Determinants of Falls," Proc. of the IEEE International Conference on System, Man, and Cybernetics, 2023

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Risk control system applying immunology

  • Yoshifumi Nishida, "Societal Immunizing System: A New Approach to “Never Again” Function of Fatal Situations in Everyday Live," IEEE International Conference on System, Man, and Cybernetics, 2023

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Living environment risk management system that integrates epidemiology and field data​

We are developing an algorithm that presents cases in VR/metaverse space that should prioritize preventive measures for future accidents utilizing situation similarity.

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Our visions for research activities

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Design that interacts with society

By observing the details of the real world, we find the problem structure based on a structural and quantitative understanding of daily life functions, express it as a social problem, and utilize knowledge of mechanical engineering, information engineering, etc. to find a realistic solution. 

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Seven principles

  1. Tackle Real Problems and Needs.

    • Deal with specific issues and real problems. The real world is the richest ground for good research questions that will guide basic scientific research. (by Herbert A. Simon)

  2. Create Concrete Stories That Will Change Society.

    • Develop scenarios that complete technology’s journey toward practical application. (by Professor Takeo Kanade)

  3. If There Is No Foundation or Arena, Build One.

    • Don't just point out what's still undeveloped; think of ways to overcome it. Be part of the solution rather than siding with the opposition.

  4. Formulate the Common Sense and Theories of Tomorrow 

    • Aim for theories that will help solve real-world problems. Formulate common sense that will seem obvious once established. (by Tomomasa Sato)  If technology becomes overly complex or distorted, question its academic relevance and reconsider the focus of your research.

  5.  Solve Complex Systems Using Complex Systems.

    • If the problem you want to solve involves a complex system, then tackle it with a complex approach. 

  6. Bring User-Oriented Technology to a High State of Completion

    • Think of practical application as the starting point, not a goal. Some data can only be obtained through practical use, and some science only starts from there. Practical application is intrinsically valuable.

  7. From Intellectual Curiosity to “Intellectual Problem-Solving.”

    • Solving social problems is an intellectually intensive activity. It involves harnessing the combined strength of technological and societal systems while remaining mindful of constraints.

Perspective of SDGs

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The social issues identified in the SDGs are problems in a social dimension (macro dimensions, abstracted from concreteness) that cannot be manipulated as they are. Based on a detailed understanding of the daily life dimension (extending the daily life dimension to the microscopic dimension of daily life phenomena), we aim to create a technical system that can change the problem structure into a state that can be manipulated.

​Laboratory access

Thank you for your interest in our research. If you have any comments or questions regarding our research or publications, please contact us.

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