About the project
In the age of digital transformation, household appliances are taking on more and more assistance functions in everyday life because the range of functions and services is also constantly growing. However, the way appliances are used often still follows the old paradigm of “one size fits all”, that is, a user interface which is the same for all users.
The objective of the Plug-In project is to break with this paradigm and facilitate an individual, interactive, and customized operation of appliances, which grows and adapts itself to the respective user over the appliance’s entire lifespan. This reduces complexity and facilitates better overall operation. As far as the technology required for this is concerned, the aim is to use various contextual information. In this way, an appliance, such as a fully automatic coffee machine, for example, would in future be able to recognize which user is standing in front of it and only display the functions important for that person.
The heart of the Plug-In System is a local platform, to which an accessory called a Plug-In Adapter can be connected for each household appliance. Firstly, such an adapter will be able to recognize the user and report this information to the platform. Secondly, the adapter can receive and visualize textual descriptions from the platform of those operating interface features which fit the respective user. Here, the IDiAL team is responsible, in particular, for developing the software technology for the central platform, whereby there are various challenges to be mastered, such as control of the household appliances and inference of the textual descriptions of the operating interfaces to be delivered.
The inference process will take place purely locally within a household, on the basis of rules and logic and without transferring personal data to the cloud.
Contextual data will be used for inferencing, for example:
- A person’s preferences, abilities, and
- The specific situation
- Activity history
- Information on the ambient surroundings
In the first year of the project, the focus lies on delivering the various data sources and data collection tools required for this purpose. A further aim during the first phase of the project is to ensure the connectivity of the various household appliances. To this end, the IDiAL team is using the open-source home automation software OpenHAB.
Beyond the local platform, the aim of the project over the longer term is to enable appliance manufacturers and service providers to offer additional services related to the operating interface via a cloud infrastructure. These include, for example, the activation of additional functionalities in a user interface or the provision of pre-built configurations. The aim here is to develop a kind of app store.
The Plug-In platform will be developed and adapted in cooperation with potential users on the basis of a participatory approach tested by the project partners and accompanied by social science methods, since a large number of research projects have shown that the early and continuous integration of users is indispensable for the precision and high level of acceptance of a technology. In the framework of this participatory approach, the respective development status will be reviewed and, if necessary, corrected, particularly with regard to technology paternalism, in cooperation with the users involved.
Funding program / research program
Digital platforms: Interactive assistance systems for humans