Maker, collaborator and expert

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Maker, collaborator and expert

 KANG KI-HEON
The author is an industry 1 team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

A living lab is a new methodology to resolve social issues. It rejects the conventional belief that the state will solve social problems. “We are not waiting” is the underlying belief. Living labs are based on user-oriented innovation combined with various IT technologies and information sharing platforms. A living lab is described as user-initiated and open innovation. There are more than 500 living labs operating in Europe.

Wheeliz is a French accessible car sharing platform. Charlotte de Vilmorin was born with a disability and requires a wheelchair for most activities. She searched for accessible cars to travel with her wheelchair and had to give up due to the high prices. Charlotte noticed the 100,000 accessible vehicles owned by people with disabilities and their families, and started Wheeliz. The rental price is around 40 percent of existing car rental services. Charlotte said that if she wanted the right thing, it was best to do it herself.

The Sugar Tree community that became the foundation for Korea’s type-1 diabeties patients is also a living lab. Type-1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreatic beta cells releasing insulin are destroyed and insulin is no longer secreted. Anyone can develop the condition. Type-1 diabetes patients can continue their daily lives as usual, but they need to inject insulin according to their blood sugar level changing with food consumption.

Kim Mi-young is the head of the type-1 diabetes patients’ group in Korea. The software developer for Samsung Electronics purchased a continuous glucose monitoring device from abroad and converted it so that data can be transmitted to a smartphone for her diabetic son. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety brought her case to the prosecution for violation of the medical device act. In 2018, Kim’s indictment was suspended and the case was closed. The patients’ group members collect real-time glucose data through computer coding. They are seeking ways to treat diabetes by working with medical agencies. The patients have become the makers, collaborators and experts.

Kim presented her case at an academic seminar hosted by the Korea Association of Science and Technology Studies on May 22. “We haven’t done it until now, but I realized that there is a lot that patients can do.”
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