Horizon 2020, Commission européenne

IMT to embark on two new H2020 projects on the IoT and 5G

Projets européens H2020At the end of May the European Commission announced the results of two joint calls (Europe/Japan and Europe/Korea) of the Horizon 2020 program dedicated to digital technology. Institut Mines-Télécom is taking part in two new projects in the areas of the Internet of Things (South Korea) and 5G (Japan) through the work of researchers at its Télécom SudParis and Eurecom graduate schools.


After working with Japan on the FP7 NECOMA project focusing on computer security, IMT is embarking on two new European projects with Asia. This makes IMT one of the leading players in collaborative research with Japan and South Korea in the strategic fields of digital technology for Europe”, explains Christian Roux, Director of Research and Innovation. “Developing scientific partnerships with Asia is a matter of great importance to us, as the high-level academic players there will provide crucial support in defining future standards in the areas of the Internet of Things and 5G on a global level.”


[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Télécom SudParis, H2020, WiseIoTThe WiseIoT Project (South Korea) and Télécom SudParis

While work is being carried out to develop benchmark architectures in the Internet of Things, the Wie-IoT project brings together top European and Korean contributions to major activities for IoT standardization. Six European and Korean testbeds will be grouped together and applied to smart cities, leisure, and health in order to demonstrate the flexibility of the IoT’s global services. A substantial dissemination plan has been put in place for standardization in particular and will reach its culmination during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang.

The consortium comprises prestigious research institutions, SMEs and a wide range of industries from Europe (EGM, IMT, NEC Europe, Telefonica, CEA, University of Cantabria, Liverpool John Moores University, Ayuntamiento de Santander, FHNW) as well as from Korea (Sejong University, KAIST, KNU, KETI, Sktelecom, Samsung, Axston, KT Corporation., GimpoBigData). The Wise-IoT environment will support SMEs and start-ups from these two regions in their efforts to penetrate the industrial sector of the IoT, by giving them access to a platform providing interoperability between heterogeneous data in smart environments.

Wise IoT is integrated in the IMT-run French-Korean laboratory ILLUMINE (http://illumine.wp.tem-tsp.eu/). Télécom SudParis will contribute its expertise in Social IoT and semantics and will manage an inclusive approach combining social networks and the IoT.[/box]


[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Eurecom, Pagoda, H2020The 5G Pagoda Project (Japan) and Eurecom

The Pagoda project involves European partners such as Ericsson, the Aalto University in Finland, Eurecom, Orange Poland, the Fraunhofer Fokus along with two Swiss SMEs and Japanese partners:  Tokyo and Waseda universities, the operator KDDI, Hitachi and NEC.

The project’s goal is to create a virtual mobile network which can be deployed upon request, dedicated to an application (through idea of Network Slicing), during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. To this end several technologies will be explored and used: Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC).

Eurecom will contribute its expertise in network softwarization (SDN, NFV et MEC) and its Open Air Interface (OAI) tool to create solutions defined during the project on an open source 5G platform.[/box]


Chung-Hae Park, Mines Douai, Composite materials

Flax and hemp among tomorrow’s high-performance composite materials

Composite materials are increasingly being used in industry, especially in the transport sectors (automotive and aeronautics). These lightweight and multifunctional materials have great potential for limiting environmental footprint, and will play a major role in the materials of future. At Mines Douai, Chung-Hae Park is contributing to the development of high-performance and economically viable composites. A distinguishing feature of these materials is that they are made using plant-based resources: they are composed of at least 45% natural fibers (by volume), combined with polymer matrices which are also bio-based, and exhibit high mechanical performance while they can be rapidly manufactured.


In a restrictive environmental context (the European Union aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 % between now and 2050), it is absolutely necessary to reduce energy consumption, and that of fuel in particular. However, the improvements of automobile and aircraft engines seem to be reaching their limits. The other solution is to make vehicles and their components lighter by using composite materials. “This idea has been implemented for several decades and fiberglass and carbon fibers are increasingly being incorporated into polymer matrices“, explains Chung-Hae Park. “In civil and military aviation, composites already represent 50% of the total mass of certain models (Airbus 350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner).”

However, there are still some problems: to begin with, the cost of these materials is much higher than that of metals (steel or aluminum), and it is no easy matter to recycle these heterogeneous materials since their components are extremely difficult to separate once assembled. This is where plant fibers come into play.


Getting flax and hemp to the same level as the conventional synthetic fibers

The Composites and Hybrid Structures group of the TPCIM (Polymers and Composites Technology & Mechanical Engineering) department at Mines Douai, led by Chung-Hae Park, is currently the only academic partner involved in two important but complementary national projects: FIABILIN and SINFONI, both of which were selected as part of the Future Investments Program.

These projects were launched in 2012 for five years, and are helping to structure the French industry producing plant fibers for use in engineering materials (insulation, reinforced plastics, agro-based composites), with final applications in a wide range of industries (automotive, aeronautics, railways, building, etc.) Besides being lightweight and agro-based (annually renewable resources), plant fibers offer the advantage of being degradable and therefore recyclable. “Unfortunately many of them aren’t yet strong enough compared with fiberglass and carbon fiber. In France, flax and hemp are the most promising,” comments Chung-Hae. “Our goal, through the FIABILIN and SINFONI projects, is to establish their position among the most widely-used fibers for composites, just behind fiberglass and carbon fibers.”

Researchers at the TPCIM department are contributing to these projects by studying the natural variability of plant fibers and the consequences of this variability on the properties for composite applications (molding characteristics, mechanical performance). This involves overcoming a great technological barrier for this type of material, and developing the necessary numerical simulation tools for virtual engineering which can be used for industrial product development while taking their specific features into account (fiber variability, as well as porosity or process –induced defects, for example) and including this information in models for simulating manufacturing process technology and performance prediction.

Additionally, the experts in polymer and composites processing at Mines Douai are developing novel molding processes by direct impregnation of reinforcements for manufacturing 100% agro-based and high performance parts, i.e. parts that have a volume ratio of at least 45% plant fibers. One of the biggest challenges is lowering the production cost of these parts by reducing the time required to manufacture one component in a chain (i.e. by increasing production speed) to a maximum of two minutes, as required by the automobile industry for example. “In this group we are interested in every step of a product’s life, from material characterization, part production, and its integration in a multi-material assembly with metals or elastomers, to its structural health monitoring during the service life and recycling at the end of life,” emphasizes Chung-Hae.


Smart processes and materials

Matériaux composites, Chung-Hae Park, Mines DouaiA complete understanding of the long-term behavior of these materials and their assemblies is crucial for the development of industrial applications, but these aspects are difficult to predict for these new materials with such a short history (unlike metals). In order to monitor how these industrial parts evolve over several decades (the operational life of a civil aircraft for example), nondestructive testing must be carried out over the service life, today. The Composites and Hybrid Structures group is working on the possibility of removing this expensive and tedious nondestructive testing by integrating in-situ sensors in the structure of the material itself, making it a smart composite which can be remotely monitored online.

There are plans to take this idea a step further, integrating the same type of sensor into tools for manufacturing composite parts in order to test or even improve the product quality in real time. The goal is to head toward a digital chain integrating design/production/testing of composites and their assemblies in response to high industrial demand. “We are doing things differently with this research“, states Chung-Hae, “and even though there are many teams in France and Europe working on agro-based composites, we stand out for the range of performances we strive for, with a minimum of 45% of fibers in the form of textile reinforcements by a cost-effective manufacturing technology, i.e. direct impregnation technique, guaranteeing high mechanical properties, as well as for our level of expertise in numerical simulation of manufacturing processes for the industrial parts involved.”

Composite materials will undoubtedly remain one of the major areas of interest for research in the future. This subject is also included in the seven themes defined by the Industry of the Future Alliance, in which Institut Mines-Télécom participates and which strives to implement the governmental plan with the same name, launched in 2015.


Chung-Hae Park, Mines Douai, matériaux compositesAfter earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Seoul National University (South Korea), in 2000 Chung-Hae Park began working on a Ph.D. thesis on composite materials through a joint-supervision arrangement. For three years, he spent six months a year at Seoul National University and six months a year at Mines Saint-Étienne. This great challenge was exceptional in South Korea, where this type of thesis is extremely rare.

Chung-Hae received his PhD in 2003 then started working in Korea for the petrochemical branch of LG, in collaboration with many international companies, in the automotive industry in particular. He left LG to pursue his passion for teaching and passing on knowledge, obtaining an assistant professor/associate professor position at the Université du Havre in 2005. In 2011, Chung-Hae earned a Diplome of Habilitation (HDR), still in the field of composite materials. Drawn to Mines Douai’s breakthrough research in this field, he joined the team as a full professor two years later.

He has been the head of the Composites and Hybrid Structures group of the TPCIM (Polymers and Composites Technology & Mechanical Engineering) department since 2014. This group gathers together some 30 people (full professors/assistant & associate professors, technicians, research engineers, post-doctoral researchers; Ph.D. students).

Aid in interpreting medical images

Reading and understanding computerized tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) images is a task for specialists. Nevertheless, tools exist which may help medical doctors interpret medical images and make diagnoses. Treatment and surgery planning are also made easier by the visualization of the organs and identification of areas to irradiate or avoid. Isabelle Bloch, a researcher at Télécom ParisTech specialized in mathematical modeling of spatial relationships and spatial reasoning, is conducting research on this topic.


Mathematicians can also make contributions to the field of health. Developing useful applications for the medical profession has been a main objective throughout Isabelle Bloch’s career. Her work focuses on modeling spatial relationships in order to assist in interpreting medical images, in particular during the segmentation and recognition stages, which preceed the diagnosis stage. The goal of segmentation is to isolate the various objects in an image and locate their contours. Recognition consists in identifying these objects, such as organs or diseases.

In order to interpret the images, appearence (different grey levels, contrasts, gradients) and shape must be compared with prior knowledge of the scene. This leads to model-based methods. Since certain diseases can be particularly deforming, as is the case with some tumors in particular, Isabelle Bloch prefers to rely on structural information between the different objects. The shape of organs is subject to great variability even in a non-pathological context, therefore the way in which they are organized in space and arranged in relation to one another is much more reliable and permanent. This relative positioning between objects constitutes the used structural information.


Images médicales, Isabelle Bloch, Télécom ParisTech

In color: results of segmentation and recognition of a tumor and internal brain structures obtained from an MRI using spatial relationships between these structures


Between mathematics and artificial intelligence

There are different types of spatial relationships, including information about location, topology , parallelism, distance, or directional positioning. In order to model these relationships, they must first be studied using anatomists’ and radiologists’ body of knowledge. Clinical textbooks and worksorks, medical ontologies, and web pages must be consulted. This knowledge, which is most often expressed in linguistic form, must be understood, then translated into mathematical terms despite its sometimes ambiguous nature.

Fortunately, “fuzzy sets” offer great assistance in modeling imprecise but deterministic knowledge. In this theory, gradual or partial membership of an object to a set can be modeled, as well as degrees of satisfaction of a relation. Fuzzy logic makes it possible to reason using expressions as imprecise as “at the periphery of,” “near,” or “between.” When applied to 3D sets in the field of imagery, fuzzy set theory allows for spatial reasoning, which means that objects and their relationships can be modeled in order to navigate between them and interpret, classify, and infer high-level interpretations or revise knowledge.


The last image is obtained by superimposing the first two images, slices of a thorax from two complementary techniques traditionally used in oncology

The last image is obtained by superimposing the first two images, slices of a thorax from two complementary techniques traditionally used in oncology


Research open to the outside world

IMAG2, a project undertaken jointly by Isabelle Bloch’s team and the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital (radiology and pediatric surgery departments), is the subject of a PhD Isabelle has supervised since November 2015. The objective is to develop tools for 3D segmentation of MRI images, specifically dedicated to pelvic surgery. Since the involved diseases can be greatly deforming, the aim is to provide surgeons with a 3D view and enable them to navigate between objects of interest. By helping surgeons make a link with images acquired in advance and the surgical site they are to explore, these tools should also help improve surgical planning and allow for less invasive surgery, limiting disabilities and complications for the patient as much as possible.

WHIST Lab, the joint laboratory run by Institut Mines-Télécom and Orange is another example of collaborative research. Created in 2009, WHIST has led to numerous projects involving the interactions between electromagnetic waves and people. As part of this initiative, Isabelle Bloch’s team at Télécom ParisTech notably worked on designing digital models of human beings that are as realistic as possible. The WHIST Lab was the inspiration for the C2M chair, created on 17 December 2015  (see box below).


[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]

A chair for studying exposure to electromagnetic waves

The C2M Chair (Modeling, Characterization, and Control of Exposure to Electromagnetic Waves) was created on December 17, 2015 by Télécom ParisTech and Télécom Bretagne, in partnership with Orange. In an environment with increasing use of wireless communications, its objective is to encourage research and support the scientific and societal debate that has arisen from taking account of the possible health effects of the population’s exposure to electromagnetic waves. It is led by Joe Wiart, who ran the WHIST Lab with Isabelle Bloch at Télécom ParisTech and Christian Person at Télécom Bretagne. This chair is supported by Institut Mines-Télécom, Fondation Télécom, Orange and the French National Frequency Agency.[/box]


Close ties with the medical community

A fully-automatic process is a utopian dream. It is not a realistic goal to imagine developing mathematical models using information provided by anatomists, running algorithms on images submitted by radiologists, and sending results directly to surgeons. Designing models, methods and algorirhms require frequent interactions between Isabelle Bloch and medical experts (surgeons, anatomists, radiologists…). Additionally, the experimental part relies on carefully selected patient’s data, under the constraints of informed patient consent and data anonymization. Results from the different stages of segmentation must then be validated by medical experts.

There has been a positive outcome to these frequent interactions: the medical community has adopted these methods and, building upon the new possibilities, is in turn developing ideas for applications which would be useful within the field. New functions are thus expected to emerge in the future.


Isabelle Bloch, Images médicales, Télécom ParisTech

Isabelle Bloch, a mathematician in the land of medecine

Isabelle Bloch has been interested in medical imagery for a long time. First of all, while at Mines ParisTech Isabelle carried out her first work placement at the Lapeyronie Hospital in Montpellier, which had just acquired one of the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines in France. Her second work placement then took her to the CHNO (Quinze-Vingts National Hospital Center of Ophthalmology), where she worked on brain imaging. She went on to earn a master diploma in Medical Imaging and a PhD in image processing. Today Isabelle is a professor at Télécom ParisTech, at LTCI (Information Processing and Communication Laboratory). Naturally, her teaching activities attest to this same loyalty. She teaches image processing and interpretation at Télécom ParisTech and in jointly-appointed IT masters programs with UPMC (where she is the co-coordinator of the Images Specialization) and at Université Paris-Saclay. In 2008 she won the Blondel medal, which rewards outstanding work in the field of science.

Blockchain, Patrick Waelbroeck, Télécom ParisTech

What is a Blockchain?

Blockchains are hard to describe. They can be presented as online databases. But what makes them so special? These digital ledgers are impossible to falsify, since they are secured through a collaborative process. Each individual’s participation is motivated by compensation in the form of electronic currency. But what are blockchains used for? Is the money they generate compatible with existing economic models? Patrick Waelbroeck, economist at Télécom ParisTech, demystifies blockchains in this new article in our “What is…?” series.


What does “blockchain” really mean?

Patrick Waelbroeck: A blockchain is a type of technology. It is a secure digital ledger. When a user wishes to add a new element to this record, all the other blockchain users are asked to validate this addition in an indelible manner. In order to do this, they are given an algorithmic problem. When one of the users solves the problem, they simultaneously validate the addition, and it is marked with a tamper-proof digital time-stamp. Therefore, a new entry cannot be falsified or backdated, since other users can only authenticate additions in real time. The new elements are grouped together into blocks, which are then placed after older blocks, thus forming a chain of blocks — or a blockchain.

In order for this security method to work for the ledger, there must be an incentive principle motivating users to solve the algorithm. When a request is made for an addition, all users then compete and the first to find the solution receives electronic money. This money could be inBitcoin, Ether, or another type of cryptocurrency.


Are blockchains accessible to everybody?

PW: No, especially since specific material is required, which is relatively expensive and must be updated frequently. Therefore, not everyone can earn money by solving the algorithms. However, once this money is created, it can circulate and be used by anyone. It is possible to exchange crypto-currency for common currency through specialized stock exchanges.

What is essential is the notion of anonymity and trust. All the changes to the ledger are recorded in a permanent and secure manner and remain visible. In addition, the management is decentralized: there is not just one person responsible for certification – it is a self-organizing system.


What can the ledger created by the blockchain be used for?

PW: Banks are very interested in blockchains due to the possibility of putting many different items in them, such as assets, which would only cost a few cents — as opposed to the current cost of a few euros. This type of ledger could also be used to reference intellectual property rights or land register reference data. Some universities are considering using a blockchain to list the diplomas that have been awarded. This would irrefutably prove a person’s diploma and the date. Another major potential application is smart contracts: automated contracts that will be able to validate tasks and the related compensation. In this example, the advantage would be that the relationship between employees and employers would no longer be based on mutual trust, which can be fragile. The blockchain acts as a trusted intermediary, which is decentralized and indisputable.


What still stands in the way of developing blockchains?

 PW: There are big challenges involved in upscaling. Using current technology, it would be difficult to process all the data generated by a large-scale blockchain. There are also significant limitations from a legal standpoint. For smart contracts, for example, it is difficult to define the legal purpose involved. Also, nothing is clearly established in terms of security. For example, what would happen if a State requested special access to a blockchain? In addition, if the key for a public record is only held by one participant, this could lead to security problems. Work still needs to be done on striking such delicate balances.

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