Katarzyna Wac

2018–2020 Distinguished Speaker
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Katarzyna Wac, PhD is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, Human-Centric Computing at University of Copenhagen (Denmark), and an Invited Professor at University of Geneva (UNIGE). Dr. Wac has also been affiliated with Stanford University since 2013. Dr. Wac holds degrees from Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland) in computer science (BSc/MSc, 2003), the University of Twente (the Netherlands) in telematics (MSc, 2004) and the University of Geneva in information systems (PhD, 2009).

In 2009–2010, Dr. Wac was a visiting post-doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) after which she was a senior scientist at UNIGE, and in 2010 has established and is leading the “Quality of Life Technologies” lab (QoL Lab) and its associated “mQoL Living Lab.” The QoL Lab research focuses on understanding how emerging sensor and actuator-based mobile and wearable technologies can be leveraged for a personalized assessment and improvements of the individual’s behavior and Quality of Life (QoL), as they unfold naturally over time and in context.

Dr. Wac’s research appears in more than 100 peer reviewed proceedings and journals in computer science, human-computer interaction and health informatics (h-index=19). Dr. Wac’s research contributes to the “digital strategy” of UNIGE. Dr. Wac is an engaging speaker and a keynote speaker at several conferences to date (specifically medical conferences). Dr. Wac is a Principal Investigator in several European (including AAL and H2020) and Swiss National Science Foundation projects and co-investigator at three projects funded at Stanford University.

Dr. Wac actively contributes to the promotion of women in computer science by being officially and unofficially a mentor to female PhD students. Dr. Wac contributes to standardization efforts by being an expert within the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) European Regional Initiative for mHealth. In 2015, Dr. Wac was a TEDMED Research Scholar. Since 2016, Dr. Wac has been a member of the Digital Health Council of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) and Member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS). Since 2015, she has also been a Senior Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Quality of Life Technologies & mQoL Living Lab Leader
Institute of Services Science, Center for Informatics
University of Geneva, Switzerland
Email: katarzyna.wac@unige,ch
URL: http://www.qol.unige.ch
twitter: @katewac

DVP term expires December 2020


Biosensors for Telemonitoring of the Patients

The availability of miniaturized, wearable, personalized sensors and powerful mobile phones (smartphones) enable the development of a magnitude of services for ubiquitous monitoring of behavioral markers of individuals in daily life environments, i.e., outside strict clinical settings. A behavioral marker is defined as a specific behavior in any of the three domains—physical, psychological or social, leveraged to indicate/measure the change in individual’s condition (e.g., for a purpose of diagnosis), the effects of preventive, treatment or rehabilitation activities, or a progress of disease.

The technologies for behavioral marker assessment are ready—hardware and software technologies are available at affordable prices and research on advanced algorithms for state assessment is ongoing. In this presentation, we give an example of ubiquitous technologies for the ambulatory assessment of an individual’s behavioral markers related to his/her

  • physical state (heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, respiration, etc.), physical activity, medication intake, fatigue and pain, sleep quality
  • psychological state in terms of moods, feelings, memory and concentration,
  • social state in terms of relationships and social interactions, including social relationships with fellow patients suffering from the same disease.


We will also give an example of environmental state assessment technologies for noise, pollution, or transportation usage, influencing the individual’s state and behaviors in all three above-mentioned domains. We discuss these technologies in terms of their design space and provided features, and their strengths and barriers for user adoption and scaling.

The challenge lies in the methodological aspects of the approach, where the data collected in the individual’s daily life environments must be of a particular quality to inform the clinical decisions taken. The questions are raised about where, when and what to measure, how to make sense of data, how to extract and fuse relevant features, how to use the data in individual cases (“personalized analytics”), what to consider as constituting the evidence on effectiveness of a given treatment or rehabilitation activity, and how to link that to clinical outcomes for a given patient.

Star Trek’s tricorder: science fiction or future science?

Healthcare has changed more over the last 50 years than at any other time in history. The convergence of the hypothetical-deductive scientific approach, advances in disciplines (such as chemistry, biology, genetics and imaging, to name but a few) in a fast-evolving information-technology age is about to change the landscape of health beyond recognition. Not unusually, from an historical perspective, most of the influences conveying these changes do not originate from health care providers.

Access to information and technologies (e.g. to measure health parameters) is increasingly open to any citizen, who tends to be increasingly involved as their own “physician.” This trend will continue and contribute to the empowerment of patients but will also totally change the approach doctors take in society.

This presentation aims to take the audience on a fabulous journey to the technological future. It will illustrate the key disruptive evolutions at the origin of the increasing role of technology in society, as well as in healthcare systems. This is not science fiction….the future is now!

From Quantified Self to Quality of Life

“Know Thyself” is a motto leading the Quantified Self (QS) movement, which at first originated as a ‘hobby project’ driven by self-discovery, and is now being leveraged in wellness and healthcare. QS practitioners rely on the wealth of digital data originating from wearables, applications, and self-reports that enable them to assess diverse domains of their daily life. That includes their physical state (e.g., mobility, steps), psychological state (e.g., mood), social interactions (e.g., a number of Facebook “likes”) and environmental context they are in (e.g., pollution). The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes these four QS domains as contributing to individual’s Quality of Life (QoL), with health spanning across all four domains. The collected QS data enables an individual’s state and behavioral patterns to be assessed through these different QoL domains, based on which individualized feedback can be provided, in turn enabling the improvement of the individual’s state and QoL. The evidence of causality between QS and QoL is still being established, since only data from limited cases and domains exist so far.

In this talk, I will discuss the state of this evidence via a semi-systematic review of the exemplary QS practices documented in 609 QS practitioners’ talks, and a review of the 438 latest available personal wearable technologies enabling QS. I will discuss the challenges and opportunities for QS to become an integral part of the future of healthcare and QoL-driven solutions. Some of the opportunities include using QS technologies as different types of affordances supporting the goal-oriented actions by the individual, and in turn improving their QoL.



  • Biosensors for Telemonitoring of the Patients
  • Star Trek’s tricorder: science fiction or future science?
  • From Quantified Self to Quality of Life

Read the abstracts for each of these presentations