Issue 55, October 2014
bulletDigital Society
bulletInnovation: Swoozy Future TV - The Intelligent Semantic TV System
bulletCyberFIT - The Interactive Fitting Room of the Future
bulletInterview with Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke - One of Germany's "Digital Minds" of the 2014 Science Year
bulletInnovative Retail Laboratory - Researching the Supermarket of the Future
bulletEvent Review: Healthcare Delivery to Developing Countries Using Mobile Technology
Digital Society 

How are digital technologies changing our society? Technology megatrends, like the Internet of Things (IoT) - the third wave of development of the Internet - will radically change our personal lives, workplace productivity, and consumption patterns and will have profound implications for every industry. Early verticals of adoption include connected cars, homes, cities, wearables, and industrial equipment for the oil and gas, transportation, and healthcare sectors. According to a Goldman Sachs report last month, "the IoT has the potential to connect...28 billion "things" to the Internet by 2020." The proliferation of smart phones and Big Data, ubiquitous wireless coverage, and cheaper sensors, bandwidth, and processing are a few factors driving this digital revolution.

Germany is leading the global IoT trend, especially in its manufacturing and automotive industries, according to Rob Lloyd, President of Development and Sales at Cisco. Today's fourth industrial revolution - or "Industry 4.0" - is harnessing the power of the Internet of Things by merging real and virtual worlds through cyber-physical systems. This paradigm shift towards smart factories will increase energy efficiency, enable more flexible production cycles, and help accelerate innovation in the future.


German politicians are embracing today's digital age with their 2014 Science Year theme, "The Digital Society." The initiative's exhibition ship, the MS Wissenschaft 2014, recently concluded its 127 day tour through 38 different cities just last month after having over 90,000 visitors on board. On the ship, visitors enjoyed interactive exhibits covering digital society themes, such as data privacy, artificial intelligence, and human-machine interaction.


Have you ever asked yourself where a scene in your favorite sitcom was filmed? Or whether the movie you are watching on TV is based on a book? Swoozy, an interactive television system from Saarbr�cken, Germany, enables viewers to search for this type of information on the web and semantic web while watching TV. When a video is played, additional information such as related pictures, facts, videos, or shopping recommendations can be retrieved via content from well-known web services like YouTube™, DBpedia, Freebase, or Flickr™. 

Swoozy not only analyzes the content of each video frame, but it also processes contextual information from sources like electronic program guides (EPGs) or HbbTV. When a famous actor appears in a scene, for example, the actor's name is automatically extracted from contextual information during the semantic analysis process and displayed as a term - or so-called "Grabbable" - semi-transparently on the screen. These terms are automatically generated and linked to short descriptions of the featured objects, actors, or even locations.

"Grabbables" are also key elements for the gesture-based interactions used to control Swoozy's user interface. By dragging and dropping "Grabbables," users can begin a semantic query. Swoozy supports several input devices for gesture interactions, such as depth cameras (e.g. Microsoft Kinect), LeapMotion controllers, and gyroscope-based remote controllers. The system also supports cross-media interaction, enabling individuals to utilize a second-screen app to simultaneously work with content displayed on TV on another monitor like a tablet. In addition, Swoozy can be used for other video-based systems, including interactive e-learning systems, business TV channels, and in-room hotel solutions.

Swoozy received the 2013 CeBIT Innovation Award and is a spin-off product from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). For more information, visit:

Source & Image: �



Changing rooms are an essential part of brick-and-mortar retail. Yet despite their tremendous significance for customers and companies, they have hardly changed in look or functionality over the past few decades. As part of the "Next Generation Fashion Store," the interactive fitting room "CyberFIT" - developed in close cooperation with the Chair of Information Systems at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universit�t Erlangen-N�rnberg (FAU) in Germany and the adidas Group - utilizes innovative technologies to create a new and exciting shopping experience for the digital generation.

"CyberFIT" brings this immersive virtual environment to life by combining cutting-edge technologies such as RFID sensors with touch-sensitive surfaces. In addition to providing shoppers detailed product information, the system also connects customers to recommendations of complementary products, such as a matching hat or pair of pants. The dressing room walls further contribute to this immersive shopping environment by providing a complementary product backdrop to the item of clothing taken into the changing room. If a customer takes an outdoor jacket into the changing room, for example, images are projected onto the walls to create a mountain landscape setting, which is accompanied by related background sounds.

Need a second opinion on an outfit? The fitting room's connection to social networks enables customers to solicit feedback from family and friends. Shoppers can use their smartphones to post product images with personal comments and to link to the store online. Customers can also play related videos, view suggested outfit combinations, and provide product evaluations via an in-store feedback function.

By carefully considering all aspects of the consumer experience, the "CyberFIT" project has demonstrated that it is possible to generate a unique shopping experience that both excites customers and encourages them to return. To see "CyberFIT" in action, click here for a video.

Source & Image: � adidas Group / Friedrich-Alexander-Universit�t Erlangen-N�rnberg




Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke, Director of the Institute Cluster IMA/ZLW & IfU at RWTH Aachen University, is one of Germany's leading experts on complex IT systems, robotics and automation, traffic and mobility, and virtual worlds. Earlier this year, on behalf of Germany's 2014 Science Year theme "The Digital Society," Prof. Dr. Jeschke was honored as one of 39 remarkable individuals demonstrating digital excellence with inspiring projects and innovative visions for Germany's digital revolution. Prof. Dr. Jeschke was recognized for her innovative automation solutions and cooperative robot systems that interact flexibly with their environment by using complex cognition, utilizing several unique concepts of distributed artificial intelligence.

In her interview with GCRI, Prof. Dr. Jeschke explains how technology megatrends, such as the Internet of Things, will transform society. She also discusses what types of intelligent robots currently exist and how cooperative and heterogeneous robots will influence human behavior in the future. Lastly, she addresses how distributed artificial intelligence will affect our understanding of life and intelligence and which research projects she plans to focus on next. To read the full interview, click here.

Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke received her Ph.D. and postdoc from the Technische Universit�t Berlin (TU Berlin) in 2006. Career highlights include completing an astrophysics student research project at NASA's Ames Research Center in 1994 and serving as an instructor in mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 2000 to 2001. After a period working as an associate professor at the TU Berlin, Prof. Dr. Jeschke became a full-time professor at the University of Stuttgart from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, she joined RWTH Aachen University, where she directs the institute cluster: Institute of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering (IMA), the Center for Learning and Knowledge Management (ZLW), and the Associated Institute for Management Cybernetics e.V. (IfU). Since 2011, she has also served as Vice Dean of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University.

Image: � Winandy, RWTH Aachen 


"Excuse me, where can I find...?" is probably the most common question in supermarkets, heard multiple times a day by sales clerks. The Smart Cart by the Innovative Retail Laboratory (IRL) in Germany not only stores and displays the shopping list a customer makes at home, but it also assists with in-store navigation, indicating the correct way to the next product on a shopper's list. Moreover, as items are placed in the cart, the shopping list is automatically updated, including the total cost of the customer's shopping trip thus far. The IRL Productfinder, which has already been successfully installed in two supermarkets in Germany, also assists customers on the sales floor by identifying where products they are looking for are specifically located. 

These new intelligent user interfaces and assistance systems were developed by the IRL, a research platform in cooperation with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the retailer GLOBUS, and Saarland University, which seeks to improve all aspects of the consumer experience. Housed in a 450 square meter space and working in close collaboration with experts, the IRL focuses on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research to develop new interaction techniques to put into practice for a self-service store of the future.

The assistance systems being developed also interpret natural user interactions and present related product information. The Intelligent Cheese Counter, for example, helps to save time and avoid misunderstandings by utilizing a depth camera mounted above the deli counter that recognizes with an accuracy of two centimeters exactly which product a customer is pointing at. The Mobile Product Magnifier, on the other hand, actively advises shoppers via their smartphones about store products with unwanted ingredients. When a customer holds the camera of his or her mobile device over an item, the product is cross-checked with the user's profile, which can be personalized with preferences, intolerances, or allergies. This prevents shoppers from wasting their time reading the fine print on a package's list of ingredients. From planning and shopping to easy checkout, the IRL systems offer a visionary outlook for the future of retail.

Source & Image: � IRL, DFKI


Today, over one billion people die prematurely because they lack access to a physician or healthcare worker. Simply producing more healthcare personnel is not enough to solve this problem. Furthermore, according to a McKinsey & Co. report, more than 80 percent of world's population now owns a mobile device. Given the shortage of healthcare providers worldwide and the explosive proliferation of mobile phones, devices, and apps, mobile technology offers a tremendous opportunity to help improve health, especially in developing countries.


On October 22, a panel of human rights advocates and healthcare professionals from the U.S. and Germany convened at the GCRI to discuss how society can best deploy mobile technology to help save lives and empower communities. Kerry Kennedy from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights began by presenting access to quality care as an inalienable right. She then joined Donato Tramuto from Physicians Interactive to elaborate on the partnership created with Health eVillages to help clinicians deliver better healthcare to some of the poorest, most underserved regions of the world. The importance of education, empowerment, and engagement with local health workers and communities via mobile technology was a particular focus of the discussion.


Bernd Altpeter from the German Institute for Telemedicine and Health Promotion then addressed how technologies for patients with chronic diseases in the modern world can be also scaled for use in developing countries. Today, numerous disease patterns, such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, are nourished by contemporary lifestyles. Mr. Altpeter explained how a universe of new technological devices will help increase compliance and lifestyle modification, thus relieving some of the pressure of mounting costs on the healthcare system. Dr. Wolfgang Renz, co-president of the GCRI Foundation, served as moderator for this evening discussion on new approaches to global health.


The German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) hosted the event in cooperation with Physicians Interactive. A photo gallery, video, and podcast of the event are now available online.    


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