108 sites and more than 50 successful tests: how the Moscow innovation testing program works
Since 2019, the Moscow Government has been implementing a pilot testing program for innovative solutions. Due to the program, startups and acknowledged science-based companies can test their products at suitable urban or commercial sites. This allows entrepreneurs to assess the competitiveness and prospects of their developments and further improve them before entering the market thanks to feedback received from consumers. Whereas the companies that take part in testing are the first to get acquainted with emerging technologies.
“More than 50 technology-driven projects have been successfully tested since the launch of the program. About 30 more are still in progress. At the moment, developers have access to 108 sites for testing up-to-date solutions. They deal with such areas as IT, education and medicine, construction, industry, trade and services, etc. It is planned to conduct at least 40 tests this year,” said Moscow Deputy Mayor Natalya Sergunina.
The main purpose of the Moscow company Exoplast, small innovative enterprise of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University was to create a medical complex where people with neurological pathologies will receive rehabilitation care. In 2018, they developed a hand exoskeleton called Exokist-2 complex with a brain-computer interface. This device makes it possible for post-stroke patients and children with cerebral palsy to recover hand motion functions by mental commands.
The treatment process is as follows: a person looks at the image on the display and imagines the desired motion; an electroencephalograph recognizes this intention, and through the brain-computer interface the command is sent to the exohand, which indeed duplicates the patient's mental gesture.
“The main idea is to combine the patient's active intention to make a motion and concentrate on the sensations from a paralyzed and preserved hand with the actual implementation of this movement,” explains Pavel Bobrov, one of the leading developers of the Exokist-2 project, PhD in Biological Sciences, senior research associate of the Department of Neurocomputer Interfaces at the Research Institute of Translational Medicine of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University.
The method proved to be effective by large-scale clinical studies based on the leading rehabilitation centres of the Russian Federation involving more than 150 people. The pilot testing of the Exokist-2 complex took place from May to July 2019 at the Centre of Speech Pathology and Neurorehabilitation, Department of Health of Moscow.
The Centre specializes in the diagnostics and treatment of patients with cognitive impairment caused by focal brain damage. The testing involved patients with post-stroke movement disorders. In the course of treatment, a solid record of achievement was demonstrated: the results allowed people to reduce the degree of disability.
“After the complex had been installed and the staff had been trained, we constantly received feedback from the Centre about the testing process and the patients’ results. I believe that the best indicator of the test efficiency is sincere gratitude of both doctors and, of course, patients. Our mission is to ensure that as many patients as possible can receive timely and high-tech assistance both in treatment and in rehabilitation care,” said Georgy Semenov, General Director of Exoplast small innovative enterprise of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University.
As he said, participation in the pilot testing program which is being implemented by the Moscow Innovation Agency, provides business with significant advantages.
“Since enterprises are small- and medium-sized, their capabilities to test their solutions are also limited. Pilot testing is a kind of elder sibling: it will always help, advise and allow entering the market with minimum losses for the manufacturer, which is important at the onset of business development,” noted Georgy Semenov.
Exoplast is a member of the Moscow Innovation Cluster. Thereby, the Company found premises in one of the technoparks in Moscow and received a license to manufacture medical equipment. The Company is currently preparing to start the next version of the Exokist-3 complex in batch production.”
“Medical companies traditionally show the greatest interest in taking part in the project. The sites in this area are consistently ranked among the top ten of the most successful testing. These include a platform for telemedicine consultations and remote patient monitoring, a system for pre-trip medical examination of drivers, a radiation-free diagnostic of musculoskeletal system,” said Alexey Fursin, Head of the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development.
See the sound
The invention “Voice vision” of the Moscow company vOICe vision today has no analogues on the Russian market. The device that consists of goggles equipped with a video camera and special software, allows visually impaired people to have the ability to see and begin to move around independently.
“An image from the goggles camera is delivered to the specialized software and converted to a special sound signal that is further transmitted to the blind person through bone conduction earphones. A person undergoes training on using the device and, thereafter, can perceive the image encoded in this sound. The brain decodes the sound into images and the person begins to perceive the surrounding space without the need to touch anything, and to move around without an attendant,” explains Igor Trapeznikov, neurophysiologist, leader of the vOICe vision team.
Learning to recognize the sound system can take an average of three months; as a result, the person obtains monochrome vision.
The project proved to be effective. Thus, the testing was conducted in a boarding school for the blind and visually impaired of the Department of Labour and Social Protection of Population of Moscow. Then it was found that due to vOICe vision goggles, the quality of perception of a blind person becomes comparable to the level of the visually impaired. At the end of this February, the testing will start at the Russian State Library for the Blind.
“They demonstrated a great interest. We began to communicate and decided to conduct this pilot so that this technology was also available in the library and visitors could use sound vision to improve their quality of life by interacting with the information and other people,” said Igor Trapeznikov.
As of today, the tests are ongoing and are going to be completed in the spring. Following successful testing, the institution will consider purchasing such devices. Also, Igor Trapeznikov notes that this is a great opportunity for social entrepreneurs to show their product while participating in the program.
“The Moscow Innovation Agency program is an excellent intermediate between government agencies and young entrepreneurs who are just entering the market. Since they are not quite experienced, their all-new products are treated with caution. That is why, no doubt, the product should be tested so that all participants could judge whether it is a helpful thing,” he stressed.
Educational 3D quiz
It was three years ago that the idea of creating a gaming educational platform PanoQuiz came to Denis Presnyakov from Sevastopol, CEO of Most-Inform Ltd.
“In 2018, we got to know about the Quantorium children's technopark at Skolkovo. At that time, we were implementing another project which was created for interaction with Russian museum complexes and allowed us to create quiz quest games in 360-degree panoramas. There was an idea to adapt this platform for children,” he said.
The project concept was to combine the technologies of the Quiz game mechanics with panoramic content. To assemble a virtual tour, one should create a 3D panorama of tourist attractions, historical monuments, landmarks, museums, etc. and accompany the image with some good questions for the audience. Using augmented reality goggles or a simple browser platform, you can travel to different parts of the country and learn something new while playing.
The pilot testing of the platform took place in January-May 2020 at the Rehabilitation and Education Centre No. 7 of the Department of Labour and Social Protection of Population of Moscow. The kids were proposed to have a closer look at 360 VR technology and independently create a virtual tour of the institution in the form of games and quiz quests.
“The tests were successful. The Centre personnel noted that the kids were involved in the process and participated in group activities. As for the platform itself, many curious features were identified. Kids have unbiased minds, that is why they are the best testers: they could click where we could not even imagine. It was a very good experience for us,” said Denis Presnyakov.
As he noted, a few months after participating in the program, the project was no longer the same: technologies related to data processing and statistics were added. Now, it is possible to view the content in all kinds of VR goggles. Quantorium children's technoparks from almost 20 regions of the country have already included the platform into the learning process based on technologies of virtual and augmented reality.
According to Denis Presnyakov, the pros of participating in the innovation pilot testing program are obvious.
“This is an opportunity to try yourself right away “hands-on”, via examples of specific customers to get direct access to the target audience. In other words, you can independently build a model for a long time so as to apply your projects to life and see how they will work, while the Moscow Innovation Agency program allows you to do this in no time by offering ready-made sites,” he noted.
Sensor system on any surface
The Surfancy project was created several years ago by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology and makes it possible to turn any large surface into a touch screen. The system consists of small emitter bars that are mounted on a suitable surface at a distance of up to six metres from each other. Once connected to a computer, a touch field is generated between them. The resulting image responds to touch.
“First of all, it is worth mentioning such a thing as scale. We can cover really large surfaces and make huge touch screens. At the moment, our technology is unrivaled in terms of size/cost ratio. Moreover, our sensors are manufactured in Russia, thus we are mainly independent of supplies and abroad manufacturing facilities,” said Dmitry Litmanovich, CEO of SensArt, founder of the Surfancy startup.
Last autumn, the device was tested at the Complex Rehabilitation and Educational Centre of the Department of Labour and Social Protection of Population of Moscow, where children with mental and autism spectrum disorders board. According to Dmitry Litmanovich, it was important for the company to understand how their product, as part of the complex that includes lessons to develop logic and motor skills, can be applicable and effective for education.
“Children of the Solnechny Krug Complex Rehabilitation and Educational Centre, where the pilot testing was carried out, require a particular approach as standard education methods are not always applicable. It is of fundamental importance to get feedback when working with these children. As the pilot proved, due to the interactive form of lessons with the help of our complex, children were actively involved in the process of interaction with teachers: 84 percent of boarders showed a positive response, while 32 percent showed more active use of speech,” explained Dmitry Litmanovich.
Based on the testing results, the complex was recommended for use in preschools, leisure and game centres.
Remote medical aid
Muscovites learned the “telemedicine” term in 2014 owing to the Pediatrician 24/7 project by the Moscow company Mobile Medical Technologies. The idea of creating the MMT Pro telemedicine platform and service by means of which parents can remotely seek a medical consultation about child care, day and night, came about a year earlier. When a baby was born in the family of one of the company founders, the couple found themselves in a situation where they needed to seek advice from the doctor but at that time it was not possible to find out the answer here and now.
Experts of the Scientific and Practical Clinical Centre for Diagnostics and Telemedicine Technologies of the Moscow Department of Health took part in the pilot testing of the MMT Pro-2 platform (second generation). From December 2019 to June 2020, they consulted patients in pediatric telepsychiatry.
“Telemedicine is highly-demanded today. Whereas previously, we had to search for clinics for cooperation, now we only have time to respond to their requests,” said Denis Yudchitz, CEO of Mobile Medical Technologies. “Pilot testing allows the customer to assess the potential gains of purchasing a product or service, while the manufacturers are able to complete the product so as to meet the customer’s requirement. It worked for us that way: we received feedback and improved the service, which made it possible to successfully implement it in work with state-owned clinics.”
How to participate in the program?
You can join the pilot testing program for innovative solutions on the website of the Moscow Innovation Cluster by filling in the application form with a description of the project. After its confirmation and a meeting of the entrepreneur with representatives of the site where the new solution will be tested, the parties should determine the testing methods and evaluate their results, prepare the documentation and sign the final agreement.