Meet the Organisers: Roland Sigrist

21.12.2015

We talk to Roland Sigrist, our sports director.

Name and job title for Cybathlon

Roland Sigrist – Sports Director

Tell us a bit about who you are, your background etc.

I’ve always been very interested in sports and learning motor skills. This is why I studied human movement science and also trained as a sports teacher at ETH Zurich. Afterwards, I did my PhD  at the Sensory-Motor Systems Lab of Professor Robert Riener on the topic of complex motor learning with augmented feedback. We performed the studies in a rowing simulator that features a multimodal virtual environment. For this project, a close collaboration with the engineers of our lab developing the robots was required which allowed me to gain insights into the field of robotics – insights that are now very useful for my task, i.e. developing the rules and regulations as well as planning of the Cybathlon races.

How did you come to work on the Cybathlon Committee? What is your motivation?

I finished my PhD in early 2014 and Robert asked me to take over the responsibility for the Cybathlon races. As I like sports and planning, it was clear to me that I would do the job. Being involved in shaping this novel event and thereby helping to push the development of meaningful assistive technology for people with disabilities is very motivating.

What are your biggest concerns about the event?

Actually, due to the successful test event we conducted in July 2015, my major concerns have disappeared. Of course I hope that all the participating teams, the staff and volunteers can enjoy the event without any incidents and are happy and satisfied at the end of the day! I’m curious to see how the audience will perceive the event in the arena and on TV.

What has been your biggest surprise in planning the Cybathlon? Is there anything you wish you had known when you started planning?

I’m surprised about the huge interest from the media and the public in this event and all the positive feedback – which is great. I will be very happy if we can satisfy the expectations. Concerning the competition, I did not expect the development of the races to be so tricky. We try to bring together humans and technology in a competition focusing on daily life tasks that is meant to be entertaining for all the involved persons. This has required many iterations and a lot of very interesting discussions with people with disabilities and experts from the field.

What would you like to come out of the event?

The event should motivate engineers, users and maybe even people in the audience to come up with ideas that can increase quality of life of people with disabilities. In the long run I hope that the event helps to make assistive devices affordable for everybody that needs them and wants to use them!

 
 
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