Research Cluster “Human-Centered Computing”
Information technology has permeated our working world and our everyday life. We write e-mails and do research on the Internet, use smartphones and navigation devices and maintain our friendships on Facebook. Complex software systems monitor medical equipment in hospitals, control aircraft and nuclear power plants. Huge amounts of data are generated, which can be stored but difficult to evaluate by human users without technical support. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for technical systems to be able to analyze and evaluate data independently, make autonomous decisions in unexpected situations and adapt their strategies to changing circumstances. On the one hand, we need “intelligent systems” that function largely independently. On the other hand, the aim must continue to be to make the complexity of IT systems controllable for people through adequate information visualisation and interaction design.
Research Area “Cognitive Systems”
he Department of Informatics has established an interdisciplinary research focus Cognitive Systems, in which multisensory cognition, learning and interaction in humans is investigated in order to realize this knowledge in technical cognitive systems, such as autonomous systems, robotic or speech assistance systems.
In order to master the increasing complexity of information technologies in the future, the perceptual, cognitive and motor skills of humans must be taken more into account in design. In the research area "Human-Centered Computing (HCC)" we are researching intelligent, adaptive and cognitive systems that can analyze multisensory data and make autonomous decisions. Together with our cooperation partners from psychology, neuroscience and the University Hospital Eppendorf, we develop usable IT systems and information technologies that effectively and efficiently support users in their problem solving through a human-centered design.
The field of knowledge technology is researching technologies for intelligent adaptive systems. The aim is to use mechanisms that function well in nature for the cooperation between man and machine. Knowledge technology combines computer science with cognitive and neurosciences to create the next generation of interactive and learning systems. To this end, hybrid systems inspired by nature are being developed and researched, which are oriented in particular towards the brain and neuronal models. The basic characteristics of such systems are a high degree of robustness, the most natural possible interaction with humans and adaptability to behave appropriately in a wide variety of situations. Examples are cognitive robots with neural control systems that learn from inputs of different sensor modalities or systems that biologically plausibly establish a relationship between natural language and context.
With natural language, both in its spoken and written form, man has created an extremely flexible and universally applicable medium for social interaction and knowledge transfer. Making linguistically conveyed information accessible for machine processing is a necessity that is becoming increasingly important for the search for information, its preparation and communication in numerous everyday application situations. Furthermore, natural language has great potential for efficient and problem-oriented communication between people and things, be it smartphones, robots, cars or household appliances. In this extended context, the naturalness and intuitive usability is desirable not only in purely linguistic communication, but also in multi-modal application scenarios (including showing and gesturing). The problems to be solved include, for example, new word creations, dealing with verbal errors, ungrammatic statements and misunderstandings, but also external time pressure, which can be predetermined by the application context.
In the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), we ensure that the development of systems achieves a meaningful division of tasks between humans and computers and does not simply leave those tasks with humans that cannot (yet) be automated. Examples of the design tasks we deal with range from touch interaction with smartphones, support for professional photographers with a hybrid system consisting of a multi-touch table and high-resolution monitors, to the design of safety-critical human-machine systems in the fields of air traffic control, intensive care medicine and rescue services. Whether smartphone, radar screen or anesthesia device: good interaction design never ends with appearance, but always with the question whether users can achieve their goals effectively, efficiently and satisfactorily with the system. The relationship between goals and interaction requirements for different system and task classes is very heterogeneous. The usability of a walk-up & use system, such as a ticket vending machine, is optimized with regard to other criteria (design-for-all) than a safety-critical system, such as an anesthesia monitor (design for experts). HCI Research researches and develops analysis and design methods for this broad spectrum with which we can design, implement and evaluate usable systems.
Multimodality in Robotics
The goal of robotics is to free people increasingly from work that is dangerous, difficult or even impossible for them, and to automate processes and services. Examples are the rescue from disaster areas or the cleaning of high walls, but also the care of young, sick or old people. Like humans, robots must learn to grasp the world, to move within it, to understand it and to interact with it. They must grasp their environment and the objects in it multimodally, i.e. in different and complementary ways, by seeing and feeling, grasping and manipulating. They must be mobile and this mobility must be appropriate and safe to manage. The technical aspects of the development and control of such multimodal systems, their mobility and manipulation, the implementation of simulated and real robots, the conception of robotic experiences, their architectures and sensors are a focus of research in the field of human-centered computing.