Information technology has permeated not only the world of work but also our everyday life. We communicate via e-mail, search for data online, use smart phones and navigation apps and we store our friends on Facebook. Complex software system can monitor hospital apparatus, fly aircraft and survey atomic plants. As a result, huge amounts of data are saved but without technical assistance these can scarcely be evaluated by human users. Therefore more and more technical systems need to be able to automatically analyze and evaluate data while developing new strategies to adapt to unexpectedly changed factors and facilitate decision-making on an independent scale. In other words, we require “intelligent systems” that can work on their own. However, our goal remains to maintain controllability of the complexity of information systems through creating an appropriate visualization of information as well as an inter-active design for human beings. Meanwhile it is essential to take into account not only our specifically human superiority but also the limits of our perception, our cognition and the whole scale of our behavioral patterns
In order to handle the increasing complexity of current information technology, the human perceptual, cognitive and motor skills as well as limitations must be taken into account during the design and development processes. In our research area “Human-Centered Computing (HCC)” we study intelligent, adaptive and cognitive systems, which analyze multi-sensory information and are capable of making autonomous decisions. In cooperation with our partners from psychology, neuroscience and the university medical center, we develop usable information and communication technologies exploiting human-centered design processes in order to effectively and efficiently support users in their problem solving tasks.
The area Knowledge Technology researches technology for intelligent, adaptive systems with the aim of advancing the communication between man and machine. Given that many setups in the worlds of nature or cognition function admirably, this area of Knowledge Technology combines informatics with cognitive and brain science. For future generations of inter-active and adaptive systems to be created, one must research biologically inspired hybrid systems, in particular those models which are orientated on the brain. It is a basic premise of such systems to construct a high level of resilience, a preferably natural relationship towards humans and an ability to adapt one’s behavior to all manner of situations in an appropriate fashion. A prime example is demonstrated by the brain-inspired cognitive robots which are capable of learning through multi-modal inputs, or by systems which produce a biologically feasible reference between natural language and its context
Natural language in its spoken as well as written form serves as a highly flexible and universally deployable medium for social interaction and the transferal of information. To an ever greater extent, there arises the need to prepare linguistically conveyed information for mechanical processing and thereby to search for, to transform and to connect data on a widespread and daily basis. Natural language moreover possesses great potential for an efficient and problem-oriented communication between humans and objects, be they smart phones, robots, automobiles or household gadgets. In this enlarged context, it is desirable to attain the naturalness, the intuitive usability not only in a purely language-based communication but also in multi-modal user scenarios, (including gestures and indications). The problems to be solved include e.g. neologisms, dealing with speech impediments, grammatically false statements and misunderstandings, but also the external time pressure which can attend the user’s context.
In the Human-Computer Interaction area (HCI), we make sure that the task of developing systems is a meaningful task sharing between human and computer instead of just letting humans deal with all those tasks that cannot – as yet - be automated. There are many examples of design tasks that we use: ranging from touch interaction via smart phones to a support for professional photography using a hybrid system consisting of multi-touch-table and high-resolution screens to the design of safety-critical human-machine-systems in the areas of air traffic control, intensive care and emergency services. Whether smart phone, radar screen or anesthetic apparatus: good interactive design never ends with the appearance but is always a question of how users can achieve their goals as effectively, efficiently and satisfactorily as possible. The ratio between goals and interactive requirements for various system and task classes is very heterogeneous. The usability of a walk-up-&-use-system, e.g. a ticket dispenser, is with respect to other criteria (design-for-all) more probably optimized than a safety-critical system, e.g. an anesthetic monitor (design for experts). HCI-research explores and develops for this extensive spectrum analytic and design methods to help us design, implement and evaluate systems suitable for use.