by Viktoria Ivarsson, International Relations Officer , 28 January 2021
For the past 4 years, the Office of the President has brought a little bit of ETH Zurich to Davos during the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Annual Meeting.
Curating an exhibit and hosting special events, the goal of the ETH Pavilion in Davos has been to share with the local public, special guests and WEF participants the best of what ETH Zurich is all about. Showcasing the latest research, cutting-edge technology, and top scientists coming out of our institution, ETH Meets You in Davos has created some memorable moments throughout the years. While the 5th edition of our participation has been postponed due to the global pandemic, here is recap of some of those highlights. We hope you enjoy the journey looking back, and we look forward to welcoming you again in the future!
Magic through Technology: in 2017, ETH Zurich showcased its latest innovations in Game Technology and robotics. Participants could try steering an avatar with their thoughts with a brain–computer interface (BCI) video game, and enjoy interactive exhibits by the ETH Zurich Game Technology Centre. Visitors could interact with Igor the serving robot, and experience the first of an ongoing collaboration during the WEF between ETH Zurich and the TASTELAB, where the latest methods and scientific knowledge joined to showcase the close relationship between science and food.
ETH Zurich dedicated its pavilion during the WEF Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos to RETHINKING INTELLIGENCE, one of the last mysteries of humankind. ETH Zurich’s Engineering Design and Computing Laboratory created a 3D printed brain that was one of the highlights of the installation. ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich researchers debuted a prototype of an autonomous robotic lab rat, that uses built-in artificial neural networks to demonstrate intelligent animal behavior – the RoboRat! Visitors could also challenge Dextra the robotic hand to a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. This robotic hand uses a brain-inspired neural network and camera to recognize hand gestures. In addition, ANYmal, ETH Zurich’s quadrupedal robotic dog, drew great media interest and public attention. This autonomous search and rescue robot can map its environment and navigate its path.
In 2019, ETH Zurich invited participants to step into a new dimension – where “design” became an essential element of the scientific process. Visitors at the ETH Zurich pavilion on RETHINKING DESIGN could immerse themselves in a sensory experience at the interface between science and design. They could touch intelligent materials, and walk both virtually and physically amongst the architecture of the future. They could see how chemists use augmented reality in drug design, or listen to the whir of a 4D printed robot take shape and swim. The star of the show, however, had to be the Skaterbot, which could be seen whizzing around on the ice rink outside of the Pavilion.
The scientific process is one of discovery and innovation. Researchers tap into existing knowledge in multiple disciplines to envision new ideas. The creative process often starts with a simple question: What if? For its 2020 edition, ETH Zurich proposed to RETHINK CREATIVITY, with an interactive exhibition at the interface of science and creativity. What if we could 3D print bespoke concrete columns in just a few hours using minimal material resources? What if robots could consider creative and complex solutions without human intervention? What if you could plant a chicken? These are just some of the questions tackled throughout the week in the popular public exhibit and associated events.
Photo credits: Andreas Eggenberger/ETH Zurich
Viktoria Ivarsson holds an MAS in Sports Administration and Technology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and an MA in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEI). She joined the Office of the President of ETH Zurich in April 2018, where she works as an International Relations Officer on projects and events of international scope with a view to increasing the visibility of the university worldwide.