Interdisciplinary Program of Biomedical Engineering,
Assistive Technology and Art and Sports Sciences

Features of the program

Generating the skills to enrich spirits and lifestyles

As the effects of a “super-aging” population, globalization, and growing dependence on information technology cause significant shifts in the workings of Japanese society, these changes are in turn prompting the need to ensure that drastic changes are also made in our lifestyles and the structure of our industries. There is therefore an urgent demand for solutions to tasks such as maintaining and improving physical and mental health and physical abilities (the techniques and technologies to enrich lifestyles), improving quality of life and providing employment support for older people and people with disabilities (the techniques and technologies to draw out people’s abilities), and labor saving and advancements in medicine, nursing, and caregiving (the techniques and technologies to investigate and understand people). This new program of education was launched in April 2017 with the aim of providing solutions to such tasks and ensuring that people enjoy comfortable and spiritually fulfilling lives, through a fusion of fields encompassing not only engineering but also biomedical engineering, art, music, and health and sports science. This program educates students to become competent software science specialists with a firm grounding in the software technology that is in high demand in contemporary society, and knowledge and experience of assistive medical engineering, sports information science, and the scientific study of human sensibilities, while also transcending the boundaries of the humanities and the sciences to create new forms of support for humans and artistic expression that are both innovative and elegant.

Program of education

  • Students receive substantial support in mathematics and physics, which form the basis of specialist subjects, allowing them to obtain the knowledge they need to tackle specialist subjects in the field of engineering with ease, regardless of whether their background is in the humanities or the sciences.
  • In addition to engineering-based craftsmanship skills in areas such as electrical circuiting and programming, students are also able to acquire practical knowledge and artistic skills in fields such as music, art, and design through long-term laboratory work and seminars.
  • As well as studying each of the fields of engineering (information, electrical and electronic, and mechanical engineering), students can select courses from a diverse range of subjects connected to the fields of local culture, technology management, and medicine, health, and welfare.
  • Building on a firm grounding in software science, students pursue interdisciplinary studies in assistive medical engineering, sports information science, and the scientific study of human sensibilities, allowing them to obtain skills and experience combining a broad knowledge and perspective that can be applied to solving contemporary social issues from a variety of approaches from areas such as human sensibilities and senses, human engineering, medicine, art, and health science.

Introduction to classes

Seminars in “Expression through Materials” / Practical work in “Expression through Art Projects”, Welfare Information Engineering

  • Seminars in “Expression through Materials” / Practical work in “Expression through Art Projects”
  • Practical skills courses incorporating artistic elements are provided in the form of seminars and practical work that allow students to gradually explore the origins of craftsmanship and manufacturing (monozukuri) with their own hands. The specialist workshop which forms the teaching environment for the course also provides students with the means of giving form to their approaches to engineering.

    Acquiring the ability for expression in art and design materials and sounds:
    In the seminars in “Expression through Materials,” students engage in practical work to create items using art and design materials such as wood, metals, resin, and ceramics, and expression using sound generators, as well as learning creative processes and taking part in seminar activities to get a sense of the feel of the materials.

    Expression in the real world:
    In the practical work in “Expression through Art Projects,” students develop new activities for expression connected with engineering in real-world scenarios. The objective is to develop devices to solve issues faced by local communities and new means of expression developed using sensory expression and artefactual engineering research and technology that bring a creative touch to living spaces.

  • Welfare Information Engineering
  • While actually handling equipment and systems such as computers and tablets, students learn about the assistive technology that people may require to obtain lifestyle information they are unable to access due to illness, disability, or other such causes.

    Production of webpages with consideration of accessibility:
    Students produce webpages, and while doing so learn about the technical ingenuity and consideration required to ensure that people with vision or motor disabilities are also able to browse the webpages on the internet that are accessed by people around the world.

    Diverse IT that supplements physical functions:
    Consider the mouse, keyboard, and monitor that we use all the time. How would the usage environments of our computers change if we became unable to use such devices? We use switches that substitute operations of computers with various functions of the body, and software that conveys information to users by reading text aloud, and consider their efficacy and the issues involved.
Crafting a sculpture using metal welding Practical activities in spatial and stage presentation Text input to a PC using exhaled breath Operating a PC without using the monitor Operating a PC with just slight movements of the fingers

Advanced research pursued by the program

Scientific study of the soles of running shoes

Toyohiko Hayashi
Yukihiko Ushiyama

Running has now become one of Japan’s national sports. Many people go running on a regular basis, for various different aims. While many take up running to improve their physical health, there are an increasing number of people who in fact do damage to themselves in the form of leg injuries sustained while running. One of the causes of such injuries is choosing the wrong type of running shoes. The primary function of shoes is protecting the feet during running, and they need to absorb the shock upon contact with the ground while at the same time stabilizing the feet. However, making shoe soles softer to allow them to absorb the shock generates the problem that the feet become shaky and unstable. In other words, shock cushioning and stability are mutually contradicting properties, and it is difficult to achieve a good balance between the two. While shoe soles are a familiar part of everyday lives, running shoes hold such difficult challenges.
Our laboratories have worked together for a number of years to research the motions involved in sports such as soccer, golf, table tennis, gymnastics, and baseball pitching. It is no longer possible to discuss sports that test the limits of human motion without using scientific analysis. The results of such research are being applied in a wide range of areas, from training to skills evaluation. The research of running shoes is part of a new kind of challenge to develop sports equipment, which was prompted by demand from companies developing shoe sole material for running shoes.
Until now the material of shoe soles has largely been researched in relation to the movement of the feet. However, this method does not allow us to analyze impact cushioning and the stability of the feet. As a minimum, we require information regarding the movement of the feet, and the plantar pressure (the pressure field between the sole of the foot and its supporting surface) during running. We therefore decided to measure the motion of the feet using a three-dimensional motion analysis device (left photo). A marker that reflects the infrared rays is attached to the part of the body that one wishes to measure, and the three-dimensional motion of said body part is measured by a motion camera with an infrared ray projector. In order to measure the motion of the feet, infrared-reflective markers were attached to four points on the shoes and four points on the lower leg. At the same time, we decided to use a sheet pressure sensor to simultaneously measure the plantar pressure during motion (right photo). We also decided to attach infrared-reflective markers to the shoe soles (center photo), and simultaneously measure the change in shape of the materials using motion capture. Such simultaneous measurement is the first of its kind in the world. We also adjusted the arrangement of the motion camera in order to increase the accuracy of the measurement (left photo).
In researching sports it is necessary to establish appropriate problems in response to the tasks given, devise experimental methods (measurement methods, test subjects, experimental procedures, analysis methods, etc.) to solve those issues, and scientifically analyze and apply the given data to derive answers to the problem. The results of such research must ultimately be fed back to the actual places of training. We welcome potential students keen to experience “the scientific study of sports” as part of the Interdisciplinary Program of Biomedical Engineering, Assistive Technology and Art and Sports Sciences.

Simultaneous measurement of change in shape of shoe soles, plantar pressure, and movement of the feet
Infrared-reflective markers
Sheet pressure sensor
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