IRC project: Digital identities, Networks and Bodies (IRC) Public issues and new healthcare practices in the digital society

Growing use of the Internet increases the opportunities for communication and democratic expression and hence large scale data gathering and possible invasions of privacy. Digitizing personal and medical data raise questions about quantifying human behaviour, Human-machine interface systems and the impact of digitisation.

Addressing these issues requires a transdisciplinary team and close collaboration between social sciences and life sciences.

For over three years, Cognac-G investigates the long-term follow up of Human groups (ethomics), which have in common to be engaged in complex behavioural tasks during a long stretch of time. We focus on six types of integrated setups that adhere to a modular logic. They permit the quantification of human behaviour in six distinct types of environments.

(1) Smart Check

The Smart Check is a smart consulting room equipped with sensors for recording the patient’s physiological responses during a serie of exercises testing its posture (static, walking, running) and it perceptive-motor style. Smart Check has three levels of application: descriptive (quantification and returning the refined measures to the clinician), predictive (severity indicators, risk of falls, …), knowledge management, and scientific exploration.

(2) Smart Flat

The Smart Flat is a smart apartment equipped with a battery of sensors to quantify spontaneous sensorimotor activity and the mood of patients. The purpose is threefold: first narrow to quantify the semiology of the neurologic and psychiatric diseases by providing objective elements over long periods of time. Then it is a tool of choice for clinical trials. Finally it is a pilot implementation to disseminate equipped apartments that allow the home support for seniors and disabled individuals in collaboration with Ineo Suez and Tarkett.

(3) Smart Resuscitation

This project intends to develop a new principle: interstitial intelligence. Its purpose is to allow a human operator to work in harmony with the highly complex environments that multiply. We first intend to measure the sensory and motor activity of the operator in parallel with the outputs of the environment he/she manipulates. Then we study intelligent interfaces, hence the term « interstitial ». These include the intelligent flooring, the internet of things, image analysis etc. In this case, the application of interstitial intelligence will be applied to intensive resuscitation.

(4) Smart Cockpit

This project also points out the development of interstitial intelligence concept. Here we try to apply that principle to create a new type of interface: the « man-machine » interface, not to be confused with his reverse « man-machine » interface. Again we measure the sensory and motor activity of pilots in parallel with the outputs of the tool he/she handle. In the present case an helicopter and plane flight simulators in collaboration with Thales Inc.

(5) Smart Spoc

Here we try again to develop a new concept: the emotional SPOC (small private online course). First, we measure the emotional state and the workload when using a SPOC using an original tool: a Multimodal Emotional Space. It is a continuous mathematical space of the moods of the subject based on various types of data: facial expression, heart rate and respiratory rate, skin conductance, spectral analysis of voice, clicks of a laptop mouse, typing features on  the keyboard keys etc … The assumption is that the subject, depending on the good or bad course of learning, will display a more or less constructive attitude, a higher or lower stress and a more or less good mood. Then we want to drive on line the educational SPOC tree based on the variations of these internal states.

(6) Smart Cognition

This project involves the establishment of a platform accessible via secure internet portal allowing neuropsychological testing online. The platform makes collect a database to enable iterative neuropsychological assessment and the definition of norms in patients cohorts, machine operators etc.


The collaboration with social sciences is taking place through five key projects.

(1) Brain hacking

Self-organizing communities are a key part of remote knowledge transfer. The study intends to analyse the social roles of community members. A collaboration was initiated between Hubert Javaux (University Paris 5 –SAPIENS director, Service d’Accompagnement aux Pédagogies Innovantes et à l’Enseignement Numérique de Sorbonne Paris Cité) and Julien Mésangeau (Master AIGEME, e-learning Master degree). We aim to study the emotional aspects of e-learning networks.

(2) Quantified Self

The Quantified Self is one of the key interdisciplinary collaboration of the project. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by Eric Dagiral (CERLIS, University Paris 5) at the Val-de-Grâce Hospital in cooperation with the smart flat team (medical personal, army and interns) to study patient experience and concerns.

(3) Biohacking : approaches in social science

A biohacking study was initiated in May 2015 by Julien Mésangeau (CIM/MCPN, University Paris 3). We will first conduct interviews and a questionnaire.

Brain-hacking use techniques to enhance brain power (memory, mood…). Users without medical knowledge buy, sell and test medicines, often referred as smart drugs.

We already conducted 10 interviews and started analysing data from internet forums and online social networks. The first results show a gradual re-appropriation of knowledge and techniques and an empowerment of users.

(4) The social acceptability of new and emerging technologies

We aim to understand the social acceptability of new technologies. We intend to study factor of social and psychological significance. About 50 semi-structured interviews and 10 focus groups will be conducted. The sample will be evenly divided into those who regularly use medical technologies and those who aren’t.

A questionnaire designed and distributed nation wide (Hélène Bourdeloie, University Paris 13 and  Lucien Castex, University Paris 3, ANR ENEID program) encompass a broad range of questions regarding personal data and privacy. We already have a sample of 400 respondents being analysed.

(5) Data Mining. Approaches and methodologies in social sciences

This project intends to develop new data analysis methodologies in social sciences. We identified an iterative process in order to collect data: exploratory phase, data selection, data mining. Researchers of the project aim to share methods and best practices in the following years.


At the institutional level.

We carried several pilot studies, all of which led us to propose the creation, within UPSC, of a multidisciplinary research center of reference for human factor, in partnership with the French Army Health Service and several industry partners.

Our team consists of 80 researchers, 8 postdoctoral fellows and 5 PhD candidates.



Le programme interdisciplinaire Identités Réseaux Corps de l’Université Sorbonne Paris Cité (depuis 2014), porte sur les enjeux publics et les nouvelles pratiques de numérisation des données identitaires et corporelles. Il rassemble principalement des chercheurs en Facteur Humain et en Sciences de l’Information et de la Communication.