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Young Talent: Bastian Ilsø Hougaard, Denmark

We have dedicated a section on our IRENE website to promote successful researchers and innovators under 40 years of age.


In this article, we feature Bastian Ilsø Hougaard, a talented PhD student from Aalborg University in Denmark who is focusing on the Human-Machine Interaction. Read on for his interesting testimonial on his participation in projects aimed at digitized cognitive treatment on novel media technologies, stroke rehabilitation including treatment in virtual reality, eye tracking and brain-computer interfaces.


Where do you come from and what was your motivation to focus on stroke rehabilitation?

I live and work in Aalborg, the third biggest city in Denmark as a PhD student at Aalborg University under the Human-Machine Interaction laboratory. My involvement in stroke rehabilitation research started with Hendrik Knoche, associate professor at Aalborg University, in 2017 while I was on my master’s degree in Medialogy. We sought to develop digitized cognitive treatment on novel media technologies, like smartphones and tablets. I found it rewarding that I could help others in need, while acquiring skills in interaction design and data visualization. In my free time I study illustration and classical drawing and other fundamentals for developing visual communication.


In 2019 I started as a research assistant with Hendrik and have now started as a PhD student in September 2021. The past three years has involved stroke rehabilitation in many new ways since then, including treatment in virtual reality, eye tracking and brain-computer interfaces. Most recently, we became involved in the RES-Q project, which holds a large potential and impact.


Among other things, Bastian devotes himself to art

What is interesting about Medialogy as an education?

Medialogy as an education combines many novel media technologies, and teaches you skills to design and implement within them. The education combined engineering skills such as programming, statistics and electronics with important soft skills such as interaction design, ethnography and cognitive psychology. In practice, that means we administer the full process of designing software and hardware solutions, from gathering user requirements, design and implementation of prototypes, to statistical evaluation. The education gave me a rich toolset to further my own goals and I am grateful for the research-based teaching which steered me towards my academic career.


What are your activities on RES-Q?

We became involved in RES-Q through Hendrik Knoche’s participation in the IRENE COST network. We help the RES-Q team with defining their outfacing user interfaces, including websites and mobile applications. To that extent, our team is currently conducting interviews with stroke patients and therapists to form design guidelines and proposals.


On a more general level as part of my PhD, I research how storytelling can be utilized to structure data visualization, to present data in a meaningful way for stroke patients. To that extent, I have an ongoing collaboration with a local animation studio, whose practices I will study and become familiar with throughout 2022. I hope to migrate some of the knowledge into the data visualization domain and provide insight into underutilized methods including interaction and animation.


Which of your publications can you recommend us to read if we want to know more about your work?

Our collaboration on virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation with Hammel Neurorehabilitation center, recently focused on evaluating VR midline diagnostics: Spatial Neglect Midline Diagnostics From Virtual Reality and Eye Tracking in a Free-Viewing Environment


If readers want to know more about why storytelling is important when designing interfaces for stroke rehabilitation, I advise them to read: How can we help? Towards a design framework for performance-accommodation mechanisms for users struggling with input

If readers want to know more about novel ways to design applications for brain-computer interfaces, I can recommend: Who willed it? Decreasing Frustration by Manipulating Perceived Control through Fabricated Input for Stroke Rehabilitation BCI Games

What are your plans for the future?

In the near future I will be involved in a EU funded RES-Q+ project within Horizon Europe Program with the RES-Q team, stretching until 2025. I wish to continue my involvement in researching the data visualization design process and currently plan to apply for a post doctorate on the subject.


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