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Interaction- and Communication-based Systems

Prof. Dr. Simon Mayer

In our research group, we explore interactions among devices and people in ubiquitous computing environments. Our focus is on the integration of physical things into the Web, on increasing the autonomy of Web-enabled devices, and on making interactions of connected devices intelligible for people.


The Internet of Things Conference 2021

We are happy to announce that the 11th iteration of the International Conference on the Internet of Things will take place in St Gallen (and virtually) from November 8-12th. The IoT Conference is the premier gathering for visionary, groundbreaking research in the IoT field. It connects world-class researchers with leading industry experts to steer innovation in multiple IoT verticals (e.g., smart city, smart health, smart buildings, rural areas). Since its beginnings in 2008, the conference has been backed by strong support from leading academic institutions as well as industry.

We invite you to visit the official website for more information and encourage you to submit your contributions by August 23rd. The topics of interest are:

  • IoT Architectures
  • AI and Machine Learning for the IoT
  • Web of Things including Hypermedia Agents for the IoT
  • New IoT Communication Technologies
  • Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in IoT
  • Sensing, Signal Processing, Actuation and Analytics in Small and Large-scale pilots
  • Security and Privacy in IoT
  • Human Interaction with IoT
  • (Syntactic/Semantic) Interoperability in IoT
  • Distributed Ledger Technologies for IoT
  • Real-world Deployments, and Testbeds
  • Novel Applications of IoT in Verticals (e.g., industrial, rural, business processes, etc.)
  • Societal Impacts and Ethical Implications of the IoT

Author: Kimberly Garcia

Date: 27. May 2021

GEAR: A Gaze-Enabled Augmented Reality System

Gaze-enabled systems have been proposed decades ago but the computing power and connectivity of mobile devices enable just recently an interactive user and environment understanding in systems that are ergonomic and affordable. We believe that promising and generalizable solutions can now be achieved by developing a gaze-enabled Augmented Reality (AR) system (GEAR) that can dynamically adapt the information load on a display to the changing situation of its user and surroundings.

For instance, in an industrial setup, safety is one of the concerns when a human operator interacts with a robot. In this context, we will develop a system that will employ a mobile eye tracker as a diagnostic tool to understand the user’s cognitive situation. GEAR aims directing its user’s attention to relevant artifacts, which can be physical (e.g., emergency button or a robot) or virtual (e.g., interfaces to control the robot’s speed). Furthermore, GEAR will need to integrate information about the user, the robot, and heterogeneous virtual and physical artifacts that are available to the system. Thus, we plan to carry out a contextual assessment by integrating available sensors in the environment, semantic models and information about the user, and even state and prediction models of the robot and its behavior. Finally, GEAR will also need to be able to highlight safety-specific information within the operator’s visual field using an AR display. Additional details can be found here.

This project is funded by the University of St. Gallen and started in May 2021.

Author: Dr. Kenan Bektas

Date: 20. May 2021

Mixed-Reality Support for Context-Aware and Autonomous Industrial Processes

In this new project (funded by the Swiss Innovation Agency, Innosuisse) we will create, deploy, and evaluate a Mixed Reality (MR) solution for industrial maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) with advanced context awareness and autonomy features. We aim to advance research in the domains of gaze-based assistance in remote support settings, attention tracking and personalized rendering, and integrated tooling processes.

Together with our research partner Ostschweizer Fachhochschule (OST) we will transfer our research findings and prototypes as advanced features into the main commercial product of our implementation partner, holo|one. Our application partners, Bystronic AG and pwb AG, will deploy our solutions in the field. The consortium will thus operate a complete feedback loop from academic research to the development of research prototypes, the integration of novel features in a commercial product, the deployment of the enhanced product in the field, and the on-site testing and evaluation which will inform further academic research.

In April 2021, we kicked off the project and organized two workshops that were hosted by our application partners. In these workshops, we started the initial discussions on the development of the technological requirements for the target scenarios.

Author: Dr. Kenan Bektas

Date: 20. May 2021

2021 Summer School on AI for Industry 4.0

Together with four partner institutions, we warmly invite young researchers and practitioners to a rich 5-day schedule of keynotes, lectures and coding! The 2021 ai4industry summer school (link to event) is dedicated to AI Technologies for Trust, Interoperability and Autonomy in Industry 4.0 and will take place on 26-30 July, 2021. Talks and discussions will focus on Web of Things, Knowledge Graphs, Multi-Agent Systems and Responsible AI, building a narrative thread towards the envisioned generation of industrial systems: industrial components are flexibly integrated and operate autonomously in dynamic and trustful environments. The summer school will also feature a hackathon that will enable participants to exploit models and tools of these four domains, while challenging them to work on concrete industrial use cases.

With respect to current health-protection measures, the event will take place in a distributed setting: participants may join one of the three physical host locations at Mines Saint-Étienne, the Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg and the University of St. Gallen, while a shared virtual location will be made available to everyone.

Author: Danai Vachtsevanou

Date: 11. May 2021


Together with twelve partners from across Europe, our research group is engaged in the H2020-ICT-56 Next-Generation Internet of Things Project “IntellIoT – Intelligent, Distributed, Human-centred & Trustworthy IoT Environments” (link to project). Our group’s research in this context will primarily focus on novel concepts to enable end-user programming for Hypermedia Multi-agent Systems as well as further conceptual designs and software components that enable the usage of hypermedia as a general mechanism for uniform interaction among people and autonomous software agents. We will furthermore contribute to the hypermedia-based integration of machine learning in this context, and support the project’s target use case of human-machine collaboration in manufacturing, alongside use cases in agriculture and healthcare.

Author: Simon Mayer

Date: 9. September 2020

Autonomous Search in a Social and Ubiquitous Web

A new paper from our group was published in the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing journal: Autonomous Search in a Social and Ubiquitous Web.

Abstract: Recent W3C recommendations for the Web of Things (WoT) and the Social Web are turning hypermedia into a homogeneous information fabric that interconnects heterogeneous resources: devices, people, information resources, abstract concepts, etc. The integration of multi-agent systems with such hypermedia environments now provides a means to distribute autonomous behavior in worldwide pervasive systems. A central problem then is to enable autonomous agents to discover heterogeneous resources in worldwide and dynamic hypermedia environments. This is a problem in particular in WoT environments that rely on open standards and evolve rapidly—thus requiring agents to adapt their behavior at run time in pursuit of their design objectives. To this end, we developed a hypermedia search engine for the WoT that allows autonomous agents to perform approximate search queries in order to retrieve relevant resources in their environment in (weak) real time. The search engine crawls dynamic WoT environments to discover and index device metadata described with the W3C WoT Thing Description, and exposes a SPARQL endpoint that agents can use for approximate search. To demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, we implemented a prototype application for the maintenance of industrial robots in worldwide manufacturing systems. The prototype demonstrates that our semantic hypermedia search engine enhances the flexibility and agility of autonomous agents in a social and ubiquitous Web.

Link to the full paper

Author: Simon Mayer

Date: 10. June 2020

Designing Social Machines for Tackling Online Disinformation

We presented a new paper, Designing Social Machines for Tackling Online Disinformation, at the 2020 World Wide Web Conference (aDecentWeb Workshop).

Abstract: Traditional news outlets as carriers and distributors of information have been challenged by online social networks with regards to their gate-keeping function. Users are now left with the difficult task of assessing the credibility of information provided to them, which facilitates the spread of disinformation. At the same time, current human- and machine-based approaches to tackle disinformation are operating in isolation from one another, each with its respective weaknesses. We believe that only a combined effort of people and machines will be able to curb so-called “fake news” at scale in a decentralized Web. In this paper, we propose an approach to design social machines that coordinate human- and machinedriven credibility assessment of information on a decentralized Web. To this end, we defined a fact-checking process that draws upon ongoing efforts for tackling disinformation on the Web, and we formalized this process as a multi-agent organisation for curating W3C Web Annotations. We present the current state of our prototypical implementation in the form of a browser plugin that builds on the Hypothesis annotation platform and the JaCaMo multiagent platform. Our social machines can span across the Web to enable collaboration in form of public discourse, thereby increasing the transparency and accountability of information on the Web.

Link to the full paper

Author: Simon Mayer

Date: 7. May 2020

Go Privacy Go

We presented a new paper, Go Privacy Go: Lessons Learned for Data Protection by Design and Default from Designing a Privacy-Friendly GoPiGo Toy Robot, at the BILETA 2020 Conference on Regulating Transitions in Technology and Law.

Abstract: In our article we investigate how the legal environment of a smart product interacts with the programming of that product. Specifically, we are interested in how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles can be mapped to legally relevant aspects of toy robots. These are of particular interest as they contain different kinds of privacy-sensitive sensors such as microphones and cameras, are continuously processing (personal) data, can easily be moved from one jurisdiction to another, and affect individuals, including vulnerable ones such as children, in their homes.

Author: Simon Mayer

Date: 7. May 2020