November 21, 2016
Historically the use and development of tools is strongly linked to human evolution and intelligence. The last 10.000 years show a stunning progress in physical tools that have transformed what people can do and how people live. Currently, we are at the beginning of an even more fundamental transformation: the use of digital tools to amplify the mind and human perception. Digital tools provide us with entirely new opportunities to enhance the perceptual and cognitive abilities of humans. However, our understanding of how this can be achieved through ubiquitous computing and media is still very basic and research to explore this domain lacks a systematic approach.
In our research we create novel systems and devices that enhance human cognition and perception through digital technologies. Our experimental approach is to: first, understand the users in their context as well as the potential for enhancement. Second, we create innovative interventions that provide functionality that amplifies human capabilities. And third, we empirically evaluate and quantify the enhancement that is gained by these developments.
I will address the following exemplary research topics from our lab to highlight the feasibility of creating such novel systems and illustrate the challenges faced during experimental quantification of improvements: (1) improving human abilities to create and understand instructions through assistive systems, (2) enhancing human memory through life-logging technologies, and (3) augmenting the human visual sense for thermal depth perception. These research programs are the starting point for the ERC-project AMPLIFY. Ultimately these technologies have the potential to become the foundation for overcoming the temporal and spatial boundaries in human perception and for massively improving cognition. The transformation can be expected to even have a more drastic impact than the invention or writing.
With these statements I would open up the discussion to the question: what will be the key enablers for this transformation with regard to systems, technologies, algorithms, and methods.
Albrecht Schmidt is a professor for Human Computer Interaction at the University of Stuttgart. Previously he was a Professor for User Interface Engineering and Pervasive Computing at University of Duisburg-Essen. In 2006/2007 he had a joined appointment between the University of Bonn and the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) working in the area of Media Informatics. He studied computer science in Ulm, Germany and Manchester, UK and receive in 2003 a PhD from the Lancaster University in the UK. For the last 15 years Albrecht has been dedicated to creating usable systems. The focus of his current work is on novel user interfaces to enhance and amplify human cognition. He is working on interaction techniques and interactive applications in the context of mobile and ubiquitous computing, including new communication interfaces and user interfaces in the car. Albrecht has published well over 200 refereed archival publications and his work is widely cited. He is co-founder of the ACM conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI) and initiated the conference on Automotive User Interfaces (auto-ui.org). In 2014 Albrecht co-chaired the ACM SIGCHI program. He is on the editorial board of ACM ToCHI, edits a forum on interaction technologies in the ACM Interactions magazine, and has a column in the IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine. In 2016 Albrecht Schmidt received a ERC Consolidator Grant to work on the Project “AMPLIFY: Amplifying Human Perception Through Interactive Digital Technologies”.