Category Archives: Uncategorized

Solving the European Health Insurance Card

Know that the results are in, it is time to start making your KTH Dream become a reality. And it means there is a lot to be done. Finding airplane tickets, take care of visas and permits, look for a place to stay, and a lot more. However, there has been a question that popped more than once on my email, regarding the European Health Insurance Card. I know it only applies to a particular student profile, those that hold an EU Passport but don’t live in Europe.  It is a situation I have been through, so I decided to write about it and try to clarify some things.

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Master Thesis at KTH

Today I have to start this post in a bad way. I need to say I’m sorry. It has been a while since I last posted. But, to be completely honest, I am extremely overwhelmed.

This current semester, my last at KTH, is feeling like the most demanding I ever had. Sure, I had hard semesters before, especially because I started working pretty early at University, so there has always been some struggle to make it work. But to be honest, I think that nothing beats my current routine of juggling with Master Thesis, Work and Blogging. It has been a 24/7 thing, which means I have zero time to do cool stuff and blog about it.

So today I decided to talk about what has been making my life pretty hard: my Master Thesis. But to be clear: even though it is hard, I love it. I have always been really enthusiastic about projects and academic work, so even if it’s stressful, the journey itself is good. It is just a matter of better balancing what I need to do.

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Farewell Avicii

The way I see it, Swedes don’t think too much of themselves. I lost the count of how many times I have got incredulous looks after saying I left Brazil behind and moved here: “Why? Why did you do this? Why come here, to this cold land?”

A consequence of this self-image is that Swedes are really proud of those amongst of them who rise to international stardom. Think of Abba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bjorn Borg, Alicia Vikander. The same goes for Volvo, Ikea, and Spotify. They are national pride, helping to get Swedishness across the globe.

This last Friday, the country lost one of these stars: the bright young DJ Tim Berling, better known by his stage name Avicii.

This post is about him.

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Osquarsgalan: My First KTH Gasque

Back in Brazil, I attended a small private school with the reputation of being “really serious.” They would never enforce student organizations or activities, so there was no academic life beyond the classroom. Things there seems to be changing, luckily, but this is not what I want to talk about.

The fact is that, previously to KTH, I had no experience with chapters and “student life.” But here things are different, and often you can find me at my chapter bar (the META), or playing with the sports association. For me, this has been a way to integrate and meet new people, as well as an excellent way to relax with classmates.

This past Saturday, I did a new thing, though: I attended to my first Gasque.

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Students Design for Libraries: an Exhibition

A cool thing about the end of a study period is that students often have a lot to show. Of course that, in some Programmes, they have equations and math stuff. But that is not the case of Interactive Media Technology. Given our courses are most of the times project-based, and lots of it involves interaction design, a lot of people end up the term with prototypes and all sort of things.

I talked about it a few times already. Last year my Programme hosted a Spring Exhibition. In late 2017, the Advanced Graphics Course hosted another one at Mission IX. And there was also yet another one in November.

Yesterday, as the first period of this semester comes to an end, there was the Interactive Project Exhibition.

Physical Interaction Design and Realization, the course

This course seems super interesting. It is all about interaction design, or what the course web says, make students “get familiar with techniques and technologies allowing them to create interactive systems that work outside, or along with the classical mouse-keyboard-and-screen paradigm.”. This means playing around with all kinds of sensors and circuit boards and all.

As it often is, the course has a hands-on approach, so in the end, students have prototypes to show around. This was what the Exhibition was about.

The Projects

This year the students had a theme: the library. Their projects had to focus on the studying environment and knowledge acquisition. But apart from that, they were completely free to do whatever they wanted. The results varied a lot, as you will see.

This, for example, was the Tree of Knowledge.

If you walk around the Departments at KTH, you often find some wooden trees where researchers hang their papers and articles. These students decided to make a more interactive version. Both the digital and the material trees work together, so you can know what is there and download papers.

This Pomodoro Box.

Have you heard about the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a productivity technique in which you basically divide your work spans in short 25 min of intense, highly focused work. The students here created this box to lock your phone. The light on top is the timer, a calm one, that signals time passage and tells you when the time is passed.

This Communicable Plants.

Studying might be a lonely activity. You sit there, just you and your papers and time flies. It might also be stressful, especially during an Exam Week. This project wanted to help students to remember they are not alone.

The idea was to put sensors and LEDs into plants and spread them around the library. So if one person touches this leaves, some plant on the other side of the room will light up or respond in some other way. I thought it was really different and unexpected!

They put together 2 prototypes. The first one here you should gently brush the leaves, so the mushrooms would light up. And if you pressed the mushrooms, some blue LED strips would light up on the leaves here.

A student companion

This is Buddy, your student companion. If had sensors for light, sound, and temperature, so he can help you find the best right study conditions. What I liked most about it was how to interact. There were no buttons whatsoever. For you to change modes, you should brush its head, which is pretty nice.

This pretty cool timer.

If this looks like an Hourglass it is because that is the whole point. These students came up with this digital timer, a mixture of the ancient hourglass and new LED displays. Unfortunately, I did not make a video, because the animation of the red dots was awesome. From what I got, the idea here is to create an adjustable timer so you can focus better on studying.

A reading bookshelf

This is a project focused on kids on an early age. Their idea was to create a bookshelf that would recognize which book the child took and automatically play the audio version of it. It had also sounds for when to turn pages so no one gets lost on the story. I guess it is a nice idea to engage young ones with literature, no?

Treasure Hunt!

This was another project focused on kids and aiming to get them interested in books and libraries. This box works as a compass, and the lights indicate if you are close to finding a specific book. Once you find it, the box vibrates telling you did it. Their idea, from what I got, was to have several of this connected to different books, so kids could hunt and explore the library.

Awesome, right?

For me, going to these exhibitions are kind of bittersweet. I love seeing the projects and how people can do cool stuff. However, I also feel kind of sad because it reminds me that my studies at KTH are almost ending and there were so many courses I could also have taken!

But I hope you liked it and that these projects inspired you to do amazing stuff also. Which one was your favorite?

/tomas