Future Lab


Gerhard Rinkenauer

The ‘Future lab’ serves as a new interdisciplinary platform for basic and applied research and the industry. The interaction of human users with technical systems and environments will be considered at different levels of relevant systems (e.g. cognition, perception, motivation, musculoskeletal system) and by different disciplines of basic and applied research (e.g. psychology, physiology, vision, engineering and computer sciences, human factors). The simultaneous analysis of different levels and the combination of the methods from different disciplines will allow to investigate aspects of human machine interaction (HMI) in a more holistic way and to consider interactions between the different system levels, for example between cognitive and musculoskeletal systems. Furthermore, the different methodological approaches allow investigate and assess objective and subjective aspects of HMI as well as overt and covert processes. Especially electrophysiological measures like EEG, ERP, ECG and EMG allow to assess covert processes and to consider covert aspects of cognitive and physiological load and compensatory processes. Compensatory processes are especially relevant in age related changes of the cognitive, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. We expect that such a holistic approach leads to better and more specific recommendations and actions for example to improve age-appropriate workplaces.

Currently the following external funded projects and internal research activities are integrated in the concept of the ‘Future lab’:

  • ‘GripAssist’
  • Research Training Group 1855
  • Bilateral DAAD exchange IfADo – India (Indian Institute of Technology; Bombay/India)
  • Eye and head movements of presbyopic users of varifocal glases

The project duration is prolonged until September 2015. With regard to the investigation of surrogate feedback on the control of movement sequences and weight judgement additional experiments will be conducted with different age groups. Because the sensitivity of the tactile sense of older adults is typically reduced up to 50 % in comparison to younger adults we assume that surrogate feedback may especially beneficial for older adults. Furthermore, the modeling approaches (hidden Markov models) will be continued. The final report will be prepared and the thesis of Andreas Bremer will be submitted until by the end of 2015. Currently a new collaboration network for technical assisted rehabilitation is founded in Dortmund. The members of this network are TU Dortmund, FH Dortmund, IfADo, Fachschule für Orthopädietechnik and some KMUs. It is planned to further develop general aspects of ‘GripAssist’ within this network which are of relevance for the development of future prostheses and orthoses.

Research Training Group 1855
The main research question about the development of mental models on the basis of uncertain information will be further investigated. New experiments with a re-learning paradigm will be conducted to track changes in the development and reorganization of mental models. From June until September 2015, Johanna Renker will visit the lab of Prof. Alan Kingstone (Department of Psychology) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to gain new research experience. Her thesis should be finished by October 2016. Additionally, the ‘Questionnaire for User Habits of Compute Cluster’ will be further developed and tested with different user groups and the collaborative work with regard to the scheduler simulations will be continued. As a further collaborative work in context of the working group ‘Human-Algorithm Interaction’ it is planned to develop simulations of industrial scheduler processes and to compare the performance of human users and algorithms. The first phase of the Research Training group will last until 2018 and it is planned to apply for a second phase.

Bilateral DAAD exchange IfADo – India
The grant application was submitted in September 2014 and approved by DAAD in Mai 2015. The name of the planned collaborative research project is ‘Anticipation and mental construction of future events in younger and older drivers’. This research focuses on the fact that aspects of our daily behavior do not seem to be designed to reach significant goals immediately, but rather to prepare for a subsequent action, which will make it eventually possible to reach such a goal (e.g. Requin et al., 1991). The central processes for preparatory behavior seem to differ, depending if the subsequent action has to be initiated in the next moment or in the near future. Regarding different time ranges of preparation, there seem to be at least two directions of research which are suitable to study preparatory behavior. First, the concept of ‘action preparation’ which is the classical research concept to study preparatory processes within short time intervals, i.e. intervals from about 50 ms to 10 s. Second, the concept of ‘prospective memory’ which allows studying preparatory processes within longer time intervals than 10 s. Interestingly both concepts have been rarely studied in combination. The aim of the current project is to combine both lines of research in the context of driving. For this, the concepts of action preparation will be covered by the German side and the concepts of prospective memory by the Indian side.
Additional planned research questions which are addressed in the ‘Future lab’

  • How can the concept of Useful field of view (UFOV) be extended in 3D space?
  • Are theoretical concepts of approach and avoidance behavior from motivation psychology (e.g. Puca et al., 2006) are suitable to investigate acceptance in human robot interaction?
  • How can gait and balance of older participants and patients with leg prostheses be improved and critical fall situations be avoided by technical assistance systems?
  • To what extent can ubiquitous sensors like Microsoft Kinect, Wii balance board, Leap Motion Controller (e.g. Bachmann et al., 2015) be used for fitness assessment training concepts for older adults?

For each of the research questions either pilot studies or experiments are currently conducted or are already analyzed.