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I’m glad that the results of our work are serving end-users and helping them live easier and safer lives

Vit Janovsky, guest researcher at InnoRenew CoE, employed at University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings CTU in Prague; Main areas of research: telemedicine, assistive technologies, IoT, intelligent housing, the concept of SmartCities, ICT tools for health and social problematics.

  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

As a child, I grew up in a mostly modern apartment building from the early twentieth century located in the royal Vinohrady district of Prague. It’s a neighbourhood full of restaurants, nice old apartment buildings and a few parks. The parks are under siege by dogs, as are the adjacent streets, so it’s clear to see what they look like. But I missed nature in the center of Prague. I now live with my family in an old pub from the late nineteenth century. This building is on the edge of the old Kladno development. It suits me that in 15 minutes I am in the protected landscape area of Křivokladsko. It’s full of forests.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

Like almost everyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to study after primary school. At that time, I had already been working at the Red Cross for several years where I focused on first aid and enjoyed computers. I thought about education, nursing school and computers. Then I read about a field combining engineering and health care. I graduated from an electrical engineering high school and then went on to study biomedical engineering. I have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at CTU and am now pursuing a PhD. This faculty is in Kladno, where I now live.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

My goal is to minimize personal costs of care for independently living people with reduced self-sufficiency. My field could be described by words such as “assistive technology”, “eHealth”, “telemedicine” or “smart living”. As an engineer, I say we have gadgets for everything nowadays; we only have to combine them well so that they will do what we want them to. I collaborate a lot with healthcare and social care providers who are providing services to people with reduced self-sufficiency in their home environment. I am trying to get technical and ICT solutions to be more used in practice. In other words, the technology should provide round-the-clock supervision of the person, recognize any potential crisis and inform the caretaker about it.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

I work on projects as a consultant, solution designer, tester or project manager. I communicate a lot with people — colleagues, potential partners, existing partners, presentations at events for the general and professional public, workshops for the target groups of our projects and end-users. The rest of my work is variable, and I enjoy that a lot. Depending on the type of project I am involved in, my other work also depends on it. I travel to install equipment for pilot projects, write project proposals, create strategy documents for cities and their contributing organizations, design system solutions for ICT in-home care or lead student professional papers.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

I like its variety. But most of all, I’m glad that the results of our work are serving end-users and helping them live easier and safer lives. The social and health sector is not primarily about energy or financial savings but about helping people. I am pleased, for example, when a senior citizen can live at home alone and does not have to move into a special care home.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

The biggest challenge is to convince the rigid world of healthcare for people with lower self-sufficiency that technology has a place within it. It is a huge challenge to combine healthcare and social care in practice because, in CR, these sectors are already strictly separated from the ministry level. So, individual stakeholders do not want to cooperate, and it seems to me that the state makes it impossible for them to do so. ICT that enables data sharing and automatization of many tasks will hopefully help to destroy this barrier.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

My area of interest is not basic research, and I am not a pure scientist myself. I focus more on practice. Therefore, I have no scientific role model. But what I have been interested in lately is experimenting with energy harvesting from the human body. The idea that wearable electronics are powered by the energy of the human body is a breakthrough in my field.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

All the artwork of my kids has a special place in my life. Perhaps they will shoot a movie or write a play. What has always fascinated me in my life are the creations of nature. I prefer them to human-made cities full of tall buildings. Slovene nature is an example of such nice natural artwork. I’m fascinated by Cuban dances like salsa, bachata and merengue. From the movies, I like the story of the robot Wall-E.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

Just yesterday, my colleagues showed me the “Money Heist” series. I think I’m going to watch the whole thing soon because the first two episodes were very interesting.

  • Describe your very first impression of Slovenia.

Slovenia is a beautiful country. The contrast of the sea, tree-covered hills and mountains is amazing. The land is also made up of people who have always been friendly to me.

  • What do you like about Slovenia and what do you miss most from your homeland?

I like the combination of local cuisine — seafood and grilled minced meat. I don’t miss anything of my country here, except my loved ones and a well-brewed Czech beer.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

Of the cities, I like Koper — it is not aimed at hotel tourists. I like to go swimming at the Krajinski park Debeli rtič.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

I’ve been most excited about my kids lately. Like every parent, I guess.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

The biggest pieces of wisdom I’ve come across … My father: The older you are, the quicker the life goes; High school teacher: Go forward step by step. Useless things are useless! Always require exact and written instructions; My academic boss: There is no point to worry about things you can’t change; My private sector boss: You won’t sadden them by just giving a promise.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

Definitely the charm of a log cabin in a snowy mountain landscape. There’s nothing that would equal it in the Czech landscape, and I hope one day I will live in one of those.