Both Luc de Witte and Evert Jan Hoogerwerf participated in the annual conference of the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of Korea (RESKO). Luc represented the AAATE and Evert Jan the recently established Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO). RESKO is the Korean ‘sister organisation’ of AAATE and both AAATE and RESKO are among the initiators of GAATO. Also present was a representative of Create Asia, an alliance of 16 organisations in the field of assistive technology (AT) in Asia.
Although the majority of participants were Koreans, the conference had an international session on global collaboration in the field of AT. During this session, the representatives of GAATO, AAATE, RESKO and Create Asia had a panel discussion about how they can better work together under the umbrella of GAATO. And of course, there were several informal talks among the participants about this. The result was very positive and will soon lead to initiatives to create a work plan for GAATO. All AAATE members will have the opportunity to contribute to that.
The conference programme had a strong emphasis on care robotics, with presentations about this from Japan and the recently started care robotics programme in Korea. In both countries there is strong push from the government to produce concrete robotic solutions for specific challenges in long term care: toileting support, feeding/eating support, mobility support and transfer support from bed to (wheel)chair are examples of these challenges. The Korean government invests about 20 million Euros to have such solutions developed into market ready products. It was very interesting to see that the proposed solutions are very different from what is currently being developed in Europe. The opportunity to learn from these differences in approach is one of the reasons why global collaboration is important and interesting, and for several of the participants in the conference also the reason to try and organise a world conference on Assistive Technology.
For more information about the RESKO conference or the development of GAATO, please feel free to contact Luc or Evert Jan.