Welcome to the Institute for the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains (IDiAL)
Increasing digitalisation is profoundly changing the way we produce, consume, work and live. This change of life and work environments offers many opportunities, but also risks, social, economic, as well as political. The Institute for the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains (IDiAL) is generating scientific findings and solutions in order to turn these opportunities into benefits for the economy and society, to address the resultant challenges in favour of people and the business.
Based on current projects, existing expertise and networks IDiAL is concentrating on the following application domains:
- Health and Demographic Change
- Civil Security and Rescue Technology
- Production and Logistics
- Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Energy
- Digital Competence and Education
- Mobility and Infrastructure
- Process and Tool Development
The institute constitutes a hub in the technology park Dortmund for transdisciplinary and participative research into the challenge of digitalisation of important life and work spaces. The success of this institute will be measured by how far it succeeds, by implementation oriented collaboration of the players from science, business and society, in finding solutions that harness the digitalisation trend to truly and tangibly benefit people.
Digital and physical borders are blurred in the Internet of Things (IoT) as the real and virtual worlds are interlaced. This development of intelligent environments and interacting objects brings increased convenience as well as business potential, especially in the areas of automation, logistics, mobility, aging population, environment and energy. Future integrated solutions like Smart Energy, Smart Mobility, Smart Living or Smart Health all require intelligence. This intelligence is mostly based on highly integrated embedded systems. Together with sensors and actuators, they build up to Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) that represent the connector between the virtual and physical world. Real-world data is captured, digitally processed and potentially further processed in central IT service systems. There is a risk that human users cannot properly assess the virtual world processes and as a result interact in an either too open or too defensive manner. Solutions need to be targeted for the human users to address their heterogeneity, including “digital natives”, people with migration background or with handicaps, for example. The user interfaces need to be designed to be appropriate for all users. The development approach must be based on active design participation by associate producers.
Increasing digitalization can make an important contribution to addressing current challenges in the area of global competition or keeping work, education, supply channels and contacts going in times of a pandemic, for example, or in the area of climate and demographic change.
The use of digital innovations for the good of the population and the economy in various living and working environments raises a number of application-related research questions, IDiAL is working on in three main research areas with a structured approach:
Digital Transformation & Society
Rapid technological change necessitates a strengthening of digital skills throughout the whole of society in order to use the respective technologies in an expedient way. At the same time, the increasing penetration of these technologies in all areas of our life and work calls for technical solutions that are responsibly designed, i.e., bearing in mind any consequences which are potentially negative from an ethical perspective and counteracting them. Data collection in private, professional, and public environments, above all in connection with machine learning methods, raises a number of research questions which, in addition to questions related to the enhancement of digital skills and the design of responsible systems, are primarily explored in the context of this main research area at IDiAL. Activities in the area of digital education (e.g., digital university, digital literacy) foster transfer into society.
Digital Transformation & Business
Increasing digitalization encourages not only isolated business models in individual companies but also, above all, digital cooperation across distributed value creation systems that integrate a very wide variety of business models. This creates a need for system integration via interfaces at very different levels, such as regulation, business, information technology or software. At IDiAL, this focus is mirrored in the following research priorities: Robotics, CPS, CPPS, and cloud applications or data-driven solutions in areas of application, such as education, care/medicine, manufacturing, logistics, energy, mobility, smart city or smart region. Research on management methods for digital transformation complements this facet of IDiAL.
Technologies for Digital Transformation
Tools or tool chains to support the development, integration, supply or testing of digital (networked) systems are a further research area of IDiAL. Here, work is conducted on topics such as development environments for areas of smart services where test data are scarcely available, tools that promote a good distribution of software to hardware nodes, tools that support system development or tools that help to safeguard data privacy on a technical basis.
Based on current projects, existing expertise and networks, IDiAL focuses on the following application domains:
- Health and Demographic Change,
- Civil Security and Rescue Technology,
- Production and Logistics,
- Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Energy,
- Digital Competence and Education,
- Mobility and Infrastructure,
- Process and Tool Development.
IDiAL currently employs 58 staff members for research projects, who are mostly co-located at Otto-Hahn-Str. 23 and 27 in order to facilitate information exchange and cooperation across the projects.
The research associates include 24 postgraduates in cooperative doctoral studies with partner universities, partially funded by the doctoral program of Fachhochschule Dortmund - University of Applied Science and Arts.
IDiAL can rely on a strong network of universities supporting this work. The partners in this case include the following universities: TU Dortmund University, Technical University of Munich (TUM), FernUniversität in Hagen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Osnabrück University, Bielefeld University, Paderborn University, University of Kassel, University of Hildesheim, University of Vechta, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and KU Leuven.
In addition to the education within research and final-year projects, IDiAL is also involved in the teaching, partly through the English language Master's programs “Digital Transformation” and “Embedded Systems for Mechatronics” that emerged from this research group.