Research Areas

Our Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) group seeks to merge relevant technical / engineering and social sciences research with a practical contribution to the design of technology particularly mobile, tangible and sensor-based technologies. The multidisciplinary group combines disciplines like informatics, engineering, psychology, sociology, medical-informatics, design and media studies. The research application areas are on end-user's inclusion & participation, acceptance & adoption of new technologies, motivations and experiences of users, ethics and social impact of information & communication technologies.

The group applies interdisciplinary, cutting-edge methodologies in order to conduct user requirement analysis, co-design new technologies through participative design processes and evaluate technologies in use through a mix of lab and field based, short and long-term, user studies.

The HCI group at the Vienna University of Technology is part of the Institute of Visual Computing and Human-Centered Technology.

Technologies for Health, Well-Being & Care

Research in the group aims to put the focus on the people and their everyday practices to manage their own physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well the role of technology to support clinical and home care practices. We work from conceptualisations of more holistic concepts of wellbeing and care, and understand care as taking place in situated contexts, involving complex networks of formal and informal carers, as well as empowered individuals. We are concerned with the whole spectrum of health care treatment, prevention and promotion: from institution-based clinical care; to shared care and care in the community involving clinicians and patients/carers; to self care and health promotion; to enabling assistive technologies that empower people to live a more independent life at home and in the community. Our research and design work connects to areas such as eHealth, health management, electronic records, rehabilitation, Active And Assisted Living (AAL), motivation and behaviour change, social and emotional skills learning, and social inclusion. We also overlap with the HRI research theme, where robots are implicated in care networks.

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Critical Crip Technologies

Many technologies take on access as an afterthought. Marginalised people and particularly disabled people are rarely structurally considered in design processes if not deliberately in the focus of investigations. Additionally, methods in Human-Computer Interaction are often adapted to specific populations without taking into consideration socio-cultural, cognitive and linguistic differences shaping the different knowledges we could have on concrete technologies but also approaches more generally.

Research in this group operates from a self-determined perspective on technologies, centring crip knowledges and positionalities. We critique, design, develop and assess technologies by privileging the standpoints of disabled people and coming from a place of crip solidarity.

Within our work, we have looked at games for neurodivergent populations and methodological alternatives in HCI, thought on the role of minority bodies in somatic design, and designed a series of wearables supporting practices of stimming. Our processes are tied to radically enthusiastic participatory research and design and outcomes result in culturally appropriate and desirable wearables for and speculative explorations of futures worth wanting.

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Human-Robot Interaction

Do we really perceive and react differently to Embodied Artificial Intelligence than to ‘any other’ technology?

A lot of research on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) has tried to figure out what exactly makes the difference: is it the autonomy, the expectations and narrations about robots, the “lifelikeness”? Especially in social robotics, embodiment has received a lot of attention.

Studying how people interact with embodied AI is based on wicked problems (i.e., problems that resist complete definition and resolution). We need to acknowledge that every prototypical robot design is inextricably related to the problem space, the technological readiness level, the design, and the people, including the researchers involved in the development. In other words, the problem and the solution are necessarily highly interdependent, subjective, and fluid.

What are fruitful ways to tackle the challenges that the wicked nature of HRI research problems pose?

We focus on human-centered research for future embodied AI in social and work contexts. To our conviction, HRI research needs a stronger notion of a participatory and a social-practice stances to succeed in developing robotic technology that can be sustainably integrated into people’s everyday surroundings.

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Inclusion of “non-technical” people in processes of digital transformation

We live in a time full of digital transformation processes. Practices with ICT devices interweave into (almost?) every aspect of our professional and personal life. Digital tools offer new opportunities for managing workloads, personal creative expression, and connecting with others. At the same time, issues of digital divide, access to technologies and barriers to developing digital skills are becoming more pressing. In our group, we hence place our specific focus on HCI research and design that seeks to give more space for non-expert technology users in a digitally transformed world. This is important because people considered “non-technical” often belong to those societal groups who already tend to be socially marginalised, culturally undervalued, generally overlooked or left out of scientific considerations. We seek to openly challenge their framing as “non-technical” people. They are often understood to be the contrast to “early adopters”. Yet their distance, scepticism and resistance to technological changes does not mean that they are unaffected by the transformation nor that they are not also creatively shaping practices with technologies. The aim is to explore these existing productive creative practices with digital tools and design specifically for their ways of learning and meaning-making with digital tools.

Game Design

Making games is hard work. Often, mastering the technological hurdles seems to be the hardest part, when in fact making a great game is more a question of careful and thorough game design. We are researching tools, strategies and methods to help game designers achieve their goal - making games fun! Games have expanded and have long transcended the closed concept that is the magic circle. Alternate reality games connect to real world behavior and serious games promise potential for areas like education, health care and to raise awareness to social as well as political issues. Social games have significantly expanded the gamer demographic.

We focus on the design process of these contemporary digital games and contribute our research to the field of digital game studies. The 'Landspotting' project improves the quality of land cover information by vastly increasing the amount of data by crowd-sourcing data collection to games. 'Serious Beats' strives to change social behavior by furthering acculturation through letting Viennese youth play music together online.

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