Cognitive Systems and Human-Technology Interaction

Technology that interacts with humans is on the rise in many areas of life. In order for this cooperation and communication to be successful, engineers, computer scientists and psychologists at Ulm University are joining forces in their research efforts - and they do so with great success.

Participating institutes

Institute of Measurement, Control and Microtechnology
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Dietmayer, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Knut Graichen
Institute of Communications Engineering
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Bossert
Institute of Electron Devices and Circuits
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann Schumacher, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Steffen Strehle
Institute of Databases and Information Systems
Prof. Dr. Manfred Reichert
Institute of Artificial Intelligence
Prof. Dr. Susanne Biundo-Stephan, Prof. Dr. Birte Glimm
Institute of Media Informatics
Prof. Dr. Timo Ropinski, Prof. Dr. Enrico Rukzio, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Weber
Institute of Neural Information Processing
Prof. Dr. Dr. Daniel Alexander Braun, Prof. Dr. Heiko Neumann
Department General Psychology
Prof. Dr. Anke Huckauf
Department Applied Emotional and Motivational Psychology
Prof. Dr. Cornelia Herbert
Department Applied Cognitive Psychology
Prof. Dr. Marc Ernst
Department Human Factors
Prof. Dr. Martin Baumann
Department Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Prof. Dr. Harald Baumeister
Department Clinical and Health Psychology
Prof. Fr. Dr. Olga Pollatos
Department Clinical and Biological Psychology
Prof. Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa
Department Learning and Intstruction
Prof. Dr. Tina Seufert
Department Serious Games
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Claudia Schrader

Humans and technology - hand in hand

Who wants to study multiple-pages-long manuals for their new flat screen TV or pull their hair out trying to set up their new smartphone... Innovation cycles are getting shorter and shorter with technology becoming increasingly 'smart', but also more complicated for humans to operate.
This is where Ulm University's research focus area Cognitive Systems and Human - Technology Interaction sets in. Technical systems which interact with humans, so-called assistants, are designed to adapt to the personal abilities, needs and preferences of their users.

The new joint transfer project of Ulm's Institute of Artificial Intelligence and the campus for research and advance engineering of the Robert Bosch GmbH is one such example. Centrepiece of the project is an assistance system that helps do-it-yourself enthusiasts with various hobby projects, such as assembling a shelf. The system suggests the order in which to use the tools and materials or provides an estimation of which electrical appliance is suitable. A potential further development is being investigated in collaboration with the industry partner: equipping the devices with ‘smart’ technology so that the machines themselves can communicate with the assistant or the human.

The Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio (SFB/TRR) 62 'A Companion Technology for Cognitive Technical Systems' (LINK INSTITUTSSEITE) performed important basic research for the research focus area. In this context, scientists from Ulm and Magdeburg have been focusing on the transfer of central human cognitive abilities to technical systems - from perception and recognition to interaction and communication to planning and decision behaviour. Ulm University has incorporated these findings in various projects and continues to further explore them.

One faculty for all questions

Ulm University is perfectly equipped for its research on cognitive systems and human - technology interaction. Engineers, computer scientists and psychologists are working closely together under the roof of one faculty and are also involved in the research focus area Highly Automated Driving (LINK zum Schwerpunkt), among others.

The BioMotionLab  is using motion capture and eye tracking methods to analyse the cognitive abilities of humans. How does our brain recognise a motion or an action, for instance? Computer scientists use these findings to develop algorithms for cognitive systems which emulate these processes of human perception. The effectiveness and practicability of these algorithms is then tested on small robot models. The project 'Neuronal mechanisms of the audio-visual integration for the controlling of robots in a neuromorphic architecture' (VA-MORPH)  has neuroinformatics and cognition researchers exploring ways to improve the robustness, speed and efficiency of how cognitive systems process visual and auditory sensor data.

Mobile devices with interactive interfaces and data glasses are becoming an increasingly important research field as these technologies gain popularity. At the same time, they present challenges which complicate their application. In this context, the project Development of interaction techniques, concepts and tools for mobile interactions with ubiquitous user interfaces, which receives funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), is studying how to optimise the user experience of these devices in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction.

The research focus area Human - Technology Interaction also brings forth various and significant improvements in medicine. The project SenseEmotion , which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is a collaboration between Ulm's Institutes of Media Informatics and Neuroinformatics together with the University of Augsburg and the University Medical Centre Ulm. The project's central focus is the optimisation of pain treatment in order to improve the well-being and life quality of senior citizens. The scientists are working hard to develop interactive applications that recognise physical pain automatically and provide suitable support and relief.

Programmes for junior scientists and technology transfer

In order to promote young scholars, Ulm University together with Ulm University of Applied Sciences have founded the cooperative research training group for doctoral studies 'Cognitive Computing in Socio-Technical Systems' (LINK). Ulm University contributes not only its expertise from the collaborative research centre but also knowledge around adaptive process management. Ulm University of Applied Sciences, on the other hand, offers specialised competences in the field of service robotics and the development of intelligent production and conveyor systems. The scholarship holders are investigating, for example, models that enable service robots to make decisions. The combination of application-oriented and basic research also benefits the regional technology transfer.

Whether it's assistance systems for everyday use or learning complicated action sequences with the help of 3D glasses; the application-oriented research on cognitive systems and human - technology interaction is a central theme at Ulm's Faculty of Engineering, Computer Sciences and Psychology