People Behind the Council of Coaches – Episode 4

In today’s episode of “The People Behind Council of Coaches”, we present the team from Roessingh Research and Development (RRD).

Roessingh Research and Development

In Enschede, not far from the campus of the University of Twente and next to the Roessingh Centre for Rehabilitation, Roessingh Research and Development (RRD) is located. Both geographically, and organisationally close to the university and the rehabilitation centre. RRD is the biggest centre in the Netherlands where a wide range of disciplines such as rehabilitation medicine, movement sciences, psychology, physiotherapy, biomedical sciences and computer sciences work together under a single roof on current and future innovations in rehabilitation and chronic care. As an internationally recognised scientific research institute, RRD occupies a unique position between the university and healthcare practice.
RRD cooperates with the other project partners on many facets of the project such as the user requirements and evaluation processes, management and dissemination, and agent design. They are also the responsible partner for the development of the Shared Knowledge Base and the design of the coaches’ coaching strategies.

Today we are introducing the diverse team of people at RRD that are working on the Council of Coaches project.

Harm op den Akker

Harm is the project’s Technical Coordinator and was in charge of coordinating the project’s proposal. As such, Harm is poking his nose into all aspects of the project.

“I knew that the Horizon 2020 call PM-15 was an extremely competitive call. Soon after the proposal was submitted it became clear that there were a total of 186 competitors. This made it all the more exciting when we heard that the project was accepted for funding. We started working on this proposal such a long time ago, starting with a brainstorm session with many colleagues from RRD and the University of Twente. The “Council of Coaches” idea stuck. An idea that was very much inspired by the advisors in the video game Civilization II, that I used to play obsessively as a child. It’s a truly amazing opportunity to bring this idea to live, and I’m truly grateful for the consortium’s level of enthusiasm with which we are jointly tackling the ambitious challenges set out in the project’s plan.”

Lex van Velsen

At RRD Lex is mostly involved in developing new service models for telemedicine, identifying end-user needs, and writing design specifications. Furthermore, Lex is also involved in testing for end-user acceptance, and usability and user experience.

“I will apply the full range of skills and experience to the Council of Coaches project. The concept of having multiple coaches is intriguing but also a challenge as it is completely new. Who should offer these coaches? How do they interact with formal caregivers (like the family doctor, physiotherapist) and informal caregivers? How do we blend the online care of Council of Coaches with the offline care given in hospitals? It is these questions that have my full interest and which I hope to answer with the RRD team. Next, we will optimize the interaction between end-user and set of coaches during multiple iterations. I’m looking forward to seeing how patients and older adults interact with multiple coaches.”

Dennis Hofs

“I work at RRD as a software developer in various projects. Mostly I am working on mobile apps for Android, connecting to wearable sensors, and backend services and databases. What I like about this, is that I am involved in many facets of software development, such as usability, integration, performance and security. Within the Council of Coaches project I will support in the development of the shared knowledge base. Because of my background in Human Media Interaction it is fascinating to see this project evolve.”

Marijke Broekhuis

Marijke is currently doing a PhD at RRD on the usability of eHealth technology that supports the general wellbeing and healthy lifestyle of older adults.

“With a background in behavioural sciences, I find it very interesting to study end-user groups and to know more on how eHealth technologies can support the routines and habits in the daily lives of people. For the Council of Coaches project, this means mapping the health journey of older adults and getting insights in their daily life situations in which the Council of Coaches could assist older adults in adopting a healthy lifestyle. This information can be used to gather user requirements and to evaluate the usability of the prototypes against those requirements.”

Silke ter Stal

“Due to my background in Creative Technology and Human Media Interaction I am interested in how technology can be used as a medium to support and enrich people’s lives. At RRD I am currently doing a PhD focusing on the design of embodied conversational coaches within eHealth applications. In the Council of Coaches project, I am working on the creation of interesting characters that engage the user and I am researching the interaction between the user and the coaches. I believe it is essential to involve the user throughout this process in order to eventually create a rich experience for the user!”

Tessa Beinema

Tessa started her PhD research at RRD in September of 2017, when the Council of Coaches project started.

“One of the challenging aspects of the project is to create coaches that are able to provide coaching that adapts to each specific user. While for a human coach it can be very natural to decide on: ‘What do you want to have this person achieve, why, and how?’, for a virtual agent this is something we have to model before they are able to do it. This process requires knowledge on behaviour change, but also technical knowledge. That interplay between humans and computers and the challenge to create effective virtual coaches by making sure the content is as optimal as possible is what fascinates me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *