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Research Areas


Smart Home Interaction


Our society has to solve several major problems in the near future, i.e. population overaging and the shortage of fossil energy sources resulting in increasing energy prices. On the other hand Information and Communication technology has made major progresses in the last decades  and “smart homes” are no more science fiction. Many activities are striving for the usage of smart home technology for purposes such as providing care for people which makes e.g. possible to increase the percentage of independently living elderly. Smart systems also provide the possibility of energy monitoring for the identification of devices with high power consumption or  remote control (e.g. over Internet) of buildings to switch devices according to actual needs and reduce waste of energy.  To be useful, however, all these possibilities need to be operated easily, securely and efficiently by the average consumer without the need to consult a specialized technician for everyday tasks. The interactive systems group is therefore investigation actual initiatives and future directions in smart home technology by focusing on the utility and usability of systems and devices.


Optimizing interaction mechanisms


Increasing "mobilization" of computers (laptops, PDAs, etc.) is causing new ergonomic problems for users interacting with these devices. Our research aims to improve interaction mechanism in order to mitigate these and other usability problems. For instance, “force field” supported selection mechanisms and gesture based commands to initiate window manipulation optimize GUIs for the usage in sub-optimal environments like trains or airplanes. For emergency physicians interacting with mobile equipment, speech based interfaces are designed in order to minimize time and cognitive effort spent for data entry into mobile devices.


Non-classical user interfaces


For certain task categories, classical interface paradigms like command line interfaces or standard GUIs seem to reach their limits. In such cases, novel approaches are envisaged and prototypically realized. For instance, in the area of content based image retrieval, eye tracking is used as an input modality, taking into account current findings in cognitive psychology. Another example is the research into new forms of information structuring and visualization in order to develop platform independent interface paradigms for complex information sets. Yet another project dealt with the augmentation of paper based learning material with links into virtual hyperspaces, i.e., supporting users in switching from paper based text to on-line material.




In the area of E-Learning, the Interactive Systems Group has been involved in three national co-operation projects in the past: PlaNet-ET has been focussing on approaches to involve university teachers into E-Learning (; in VELO, the group has worked on examination and self-assessment tools for a platform emulating electronic labs (; in MobiLearn, a cross-platform framework for mobile learning (in the application area of media informatics) has been developed (

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