The corona crisis presents companies and institutions with all kinds of new problems. Solutions are more than welcome in the medical sector, but also beyond. For example, in education. Of course, you can take exams digitally, but who can guarantee that the right person is sitting behind the computer? Students of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Netherlands, are offering help in this respect. One example of this is their idea of a pressure-sensitive keyboard.

The TU/e has set up a platform where companies and government bodies can share problems. Students use their knowledge to find a suitable solution together with these parties, for example with a pressure-sensitive keyboard. “Over the past few days, various board members and other employees of the university have received requests from the business community and individuals to help with various challenges,” says Isabelle Reymen, director of TU/e innovation Space.

These requests came to her. TU/e innovation Space has been offering challenge-based learning within the university for almost two years. Students get to work with issues from the business world and civil society organizations. These parties also remain actively involved in the design process. “The coronavirus outbreak is a serious challenge that the whole world is dealing with right now,” says Reymen.

Students not sitting still

TU/e Innovation Space offers space for student teams and start-ups that are working on a solution for a social problem. “Their activities are largely at a standstill. They currently do not have the opportunity to run pilots or build prototypes, for example,” says Reymen. “But their drive to contribute something to society remains. Now they can do that for one of the biggest challenges of recent years.” According to the university, the platform is needed to bring different parties together.

Online testing without fraud

For example, Kayle Knops and Bob van der Meulen want to use their pressure-sensitive keyboards to counteract fraud when tests are taken digitally. “We are normally busy developing software and pressure-sensitive keyboards to recognize stress at an early stage,” explains Bob van der Meulen. “Typing behavior is different for each person and changes based on the emotions someone experiences. Actually, the company would be starting with a large pilot and new research right now, but that came to a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak. “That’s why we now want to use our software to identify students who need to take online tests. This way we can contribute to a solution to combat fraud.”

The students are in discussion with various universities, including those of Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Tilburg. “We can easily add our software to the software that universities are using now,” explains Van der Meulen. “For example, students now have to show their ID card in front of the webcam. Rules like that are likely to stay in place. The software of Intens Keyboards is extra. “Our software looks, for example, at how long someone is holding down a button, how fast someone types and what the choice of words is,” explains Van der Meulen. “We can’t guarantee a one hundred percent foolproof system. We can only make fraud more difficult.”

An Opportunity

Van der Meulen notices that many students within TU/e Innovation Space are motivated to find solutions for the corona crisis. “Some students quickly had a passive attitude and went gaming all day, but the more enterprising students see this as an opportunity to really achieve something. That’s contagious.”

Isabelle Reymen emphasizes that the platform is accessible to everyone who can and wants to make a contribution. “In addition to students, researchers and people from the business world can also sign up to share an idea,” she says. “We are also looking for people who can coach groups of students. Everyone who can and wants to contribute with knowledge in a certain way is welcome.” Through this platform the staff and students of the university hope to contribute to the fight against corona.

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About the author

Author profile picture Linda Bak is always looking for the stories behind the news. She is fascinated by statistics and uses not only words but also numbers to tell these stories.