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ELECTION SERIES #3
The traditional pencil-and-paper method to mark your vote in the polling booth has been gradually replaced by electronic voting machines in many countries, in Europe and beyond. Ensuring the security of electronic voting machines and quelling fears of vote-rigging have become ever more important. One ERC-funded researcher has been working tirelessly to develop such an e-voting system through two projects, SEEVS and its follow-up SEEVCA.
The increasing development of wearable technology sparks the need for new, innovative ways to interact with our shiny gadgets. Deviating from the conventional approach based on touch-sensitive devices, Prof. Jürgen Steimle aims at producing body-worn user interfaces that can be applied directly on the skin. Highly personalised, biocompatible and ultrathin, these devices will seamlessly blend with the human skin to create a technological extension of our body.
The amount of currently available biomedical data is overwhelming. Large databases exist at different scales, from genes, to proteins, to patients' histories. But what do scientists do with all this information? Serbian-born Professor Nataša Pržulj, from University College London, works with Big Data to establish patterns and gain knowledge that could revolutionise how we treat diseases.
Travellers already benefit from applications harnessing data from sensor networks and smartphone users. They calculate alternative routes, help plan carpooling routes, or support the optimisation of public transport. With her ERC grant, Prof. Vana Kalogeraki works on a comprehensive software framework that will simplify the development of such mobile human-centred systems and make them more predictable and reliable.
Is a precise answer always better than a slightly less detailed one? Not necessarily. Some problems could take forever to compute and tie up vast IT capacity. Where solutions are needed urgently, e.g. in business or manufacturing, near-enough can be more than enough. ERC-funded research has produced a library of fast, powerful approximation algorithms.
We are nowadays in the middle of the second quantum revolution. The first one brought forward the rules that govern physics at the atomic level – the quantum mechanics. The second entails the use of these rules for developing new technologies. In his ERC-funded project, Prof. Andris Ambainis from the University of Latvia investigates new methods of developing quantum algorithms and the limits of quantum computing.
Tired of endlessly looking for a parking spot? Dreaming of having a bird's-eye view to locate free spaces in a congested city? ERC grantee Prof Luc Van Gool is a research leader in the area of computer vison. With his project "VarCity", he works to innovate existing 3D city modelling by using object class recognition methods and crowd generated data. To apply his idea, Prof. Van Gool received an additional ERC Proof of Concept grant and created a spin-off that commercialises a video-based smart parking system. In the city of Locarno, Switzerland, "Parquery" stands the test.
It has long been a sci-fi dream to have a humanoid robot in our everyday life. Soon that dream may seem even more vivid, thanks to Dr Pierre-Yves Oudeyer’s ERC-funded project. His team has developed the first complete open-source 3D printed humanoid robot, called “Poppy”. Poppy is a robot that anybody can build – its body is 3D printed and its behaviour programmed by the user. The technology will be of benefit to the fields of science, engineering, education and even the arts.
Compared to humans, the sensing and dexterity of current robots is extremely limited. Reproducing these fundamental human abilities in robotics systems requires a new scientific and technological approach, according to Professor Danica Kragic.
We are more and more accustomed to interacting physically with technology - using touchscreens for example. We now routinely “thumb-flick” through information on our phones or tablets rather than pressing keys. For Professor Sriram Subramanian and his team this kind of technology needs to be pushed beyond a flat interaction with the screen beneath our fingers - instead we should be able to feel what we are currently touching. Only by doing so can we fully interact with the information we are accessing.