Yen Ching Chiuan

Associate Professor Yen Ching Chiuan is the Co-Director of Keio-NUS CUTE Center and was the founding Head of Division of Industrial Design (DID) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He also holds joint appointments with the Smart Systems Institute and Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS) at NUS. His research interests lie in methodologies for design, and he champions a pluralistic dimension of design study and research, in particular, in the area of design for healthcare and medicine. He has worked with renowned companies including: ABBOT, ASUS, BMW Designwork USA, Coca Cola, Creative, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, DELL, Estee Lauder, OSIM, National University Hospital, Samsung, Swarovski, Tupperware, and VISA. He has successfully received over S$30M grant as PI/Co-PI/Collaborator from government agencies, universities and industries. His supervision in design is highly regarded and has received more than 50 top international or regional design awards, including the Stanford Longevity Technology Prize 2015, Braunprize 2007, Luminary, red-dot award: design concept 2006, ACM CHI Student Competition 2016 and James Dyson Award (Singapore) 2012.

Using artificial and virtual realities to improve health

Associate Professor Yen Ching Chiuan is co-director or Keio-NUS (National University of Singapore) CUTE Center. The CUTE Center specialises in design for health and design for education. Yen shared his research at the Symposium in the workshop sessions and exhibition spaces.

The CUTE Centeris working with the NUS School of Medicine to produce a Virtual Interactive Human Anatomic Model. The model facilitates the use of virtual reality by first year students of medicine. NUS have set up five curriculums so students are able to use VR to explore different topics in anatomy.

“We are also investigating how we can use anatomical data as a surgical guide for training and to simulate surgery. For example, we were asked to create a training tool in artificial reality incorporating a model and patient data,” says Yen.

“By using data, we are able to see the possible next steps in the surgical learning process. Having such data prevents errors in a surgical procedure, and with AR you are able to see things in layers. The anatomical layers you haven’t entered yet during a surgical procedure,” he explains.

Yen and the CUTE Center also work in the realm of ‘sensory interaction’. Their project investigated how to alter a person’s sense of taste.

“We investigated how can we work with people with high blood pressure to improve their diet. We identified that the main problem for people is that taste is quite subjective. We considered smell and colour and developed what we call a ‘virtual cocktail’. This allows people to sense using different channels. For example, some people they don’t like to drink plain water, so we created a ‘cocktail’ that makes you think you are drinking lemonade. In Japan Miso Soup contains a lot of salt, so we can create a soup that makes people think it’s salty when in reality it isn’t,” Yen explains.

The Virtual Cocktail idea has been taken further to reduce alcohol consumption. When exhibiting the cocktail in the UK, a company approached CUTE to create a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like alcohol.

“We created an alcoholic smell so people could smell it and they could sense an alcoholic product. This allows people to enjoy a drink with friends without consuming alcohol,” says Yen.

CUTE Lab is also using the sense of smell and vision in a multisensory interaction to help dementia patients. Yen says this helps dementia sufferers to recall past experiences and improves their cognitive ability.