Humans of TU Delft: Bernard Bekker

Who are the people who study or work at TU Delft? We meet them in Humans of TU Delft. Master’s student Bernard Bekker is trying to find out how a playground is well used.

Bernard Bekker. (Photo: Heather Montague)

“The municipality of Rotterdam and a group related to the municipality of Amsterdam asked if it’s possible to come up with a system to monitor the usage of playgrounds without infringing the privacy of whoever might be in the playgrounds. Their goal is to have a better understanding of what parts of a playground are fun to use and what parts get used most.

It’s not just that they want to know if a slide or a swing is used most, but they want to know if maybe the kids just want all of those obstructions out of the way so they can play football on a grass field. They want to know how kids are using the area.

That’s something that hasn’t really been done before. There are camera systems that can track people, there are also crowd monitoring systems that can look at cell phones, but at a playground, you will mostly find kids who obviously don’t have cell phones.

So, it was a pretty open area of research. I really liked the assignment because it was so open; it was just a problem without a solution. With most assignments it’s a continuation of something that’s already being done at TU Delft so you’re forced in one direction.

‘It was a pretty open area of research’

I looked at a whole bunch of different things like microphones, or detecting footsteps on the ground, but that didn’t work out because playgrounds have a soft floor to soften your fall which also prevents measuring footsteps. So, I ended up with a radar system. It’s interesting because it’s outside my real area of knowledge. That makes it fun, but it also makes it hard.

I’m doing a master’s in embedded systems and right now I’m doing my thesis. I’m hoping to finish before the end of January. Before I started this project, I did an internship at Tesla in California and they have expressed interest in having me back there. During my internship I worked on wireless systems in cars, programming, testing, things like that. If they want me back, I think I’d like to do that at least for a few years.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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