Intelligent machines understand people

Cross-sectional project: Human-machine interaction

The performance of products and production systems is constantly improving. As they incorporate more and more technologies and functions, they are also becoming increasingly complex to operate, and usability problems could limit the functionality of machinery and devices. There is still enormous potential for development in the field known as human-machine interaction (HMI), such as intuitive user interfaces that can be controlled by gestures, touch, voice or eye movements. HMI processes allow the controls, cognitive demands and emotional quality of experience to be perfectly tailored to the user. In light of demographic changes, assistance systems and interactive robotics safeguard the jobs of older employees, particularly when they are highly qualified specialists.

The aim of the research project is to develop innovative methods and processes that can be used to create intuitive user interfaces for products and production systems. This provides companies with expert support in integrating HMI technology into the mechanical engineering systems of tomorrow and increasing their user-friendliness.

To that end, HMI methods and processes in the form of solution models are made available in an HMI toolkit. Examples include voice interaction, gesture control, touch-based tactile sensor technology, eye tracking, virtual reality and interactive robotics. Furthermore, guidelines and evaluation methods for using the methods and processes are developed in areas such as ergonomics, behavioral measurement and the cognitive load on users. The results are established in an HMI transfer lab before being validated by cluster companies and converted into marketable products and production systems such as adaptive production robots or intuitive self-service systems.

The project considerably improves the user-friendliness of products and production systems. Efficiency and quality assurance for production technology and in production unit configuration, servicing and maintenance can be significantly enhanced, while working conditions are optimized, particularly for older employees. The project results are made accessible to other manufacturing companies – e.g. those involved in mechanical engineering, the electrical industry and the automotive supply industry – through transfer projects, and disseminated outside the cluster by engineering firms. In addition to this, the solutions are also integrated into new consultancy and further education programs, some of which are web-based.

Project duration
01 July 2012 - 30 June 2017