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Jun
01

For the third issue of the VERITAS newsletter, the views of some of the main industrial and research partners of the project concerning their work within VERITAS were collected.

These interviews illustrate how the VERITAS tools will impact four application fields (eHealth, home and work environments, automotive and infotainment sectors) and showcase the market potential of the developed technology.

Alberto Rugnone, Technical responsible of eHealthcare solutions, I+ (Italy)
1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

The benefit of VERITAS technology in the healthcare solutions design field could be relevant. This domain is characterized by strong requirements in terms of flexibility and personalization level, that impact heavily on solutions’ usability and accessibility. The possibility to embed the user’s needs in all the design phases could significantly improve the compliance of solutions to the specific user’s requirements. I know there are approaches based on CAD applications for the design of healthcare environments or c solutions affecting some specific areas (ex. medical implants and prosthesis) . But I think it’s very hard to find design approaches based on human models. Anyway, I’m expert in tele-care and tele-monitoring systems: I’m sure any similar approaches are currently available in this healthcare domain.

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples)accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

The main benefit I’m expecting from the Veritas tools concerns the possibility to design personalized user interfaces that are complaint to requirements of a specific patients group, before developing the interface and without change the core of the solution (software application or device) .This will save time and resources and our solutions will have a higher level of acceptability.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

I+ is interesting in implementing the Veritas approach and tools in all its products, since this could improve cost effectiveness and usability of its solutions .Through its participation in VERITA,S I+ will gain significant knowledge and advantage over other competitors in the e-healthcare and e-wellness area and this will create a competitive market advantage.
I+ is one of the leading software development companies in the e- healthcare and Ambient Assisted L iving domain at national and European level. It has a strong and proved experience with different groups of users (physical and cognitive disabled people, elderly people); it is also expert in assessment methodology of the innovation impact towards patients and service models. I+ will contribute to VERITAS by providing its expertise, partnerships and networks.

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

The development of tools for the design and development of ergonomic and accessible domotic solutions and environments is also interesting for I+, because the Home Automation is another important business are for I+ ; this area is strongly linked to the e-healthcare one and I+ has several integrated implementations and solutions (in this case we speak about Ambient Assisted Living solutions).

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

VERITAS is expected to have a good market potential in the personal healthcare domain, since it addresses very important requirements that have a significant impact on costs and quality of solutions. Yes, I think the market success will of course depend on the price of the final products, especially in the tele-monitoring domain (this is not a “rich” sector!).
Companies should pay these costs, but the final price of the developed solutions should include a fee covering this additional requirement (increased usability and accessibility). I think the commercial strength of Veritas is the possibility to provide tools improving accessibility in different market domains: some of them (ex. Automotive) are more mature in Italy than others (ex. Personal healthcare), but all of them are growing and many companies, especially SMEs, working to innovate their solutions and to reinforce their market competiveness.

Nikolaos Bezerianos, Large Projects Director, BYTE (Greece)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

The benefit of the VERITAS technology in the workplace design field will be significant, since the needs of the users will be embedded in all the design phases, even in the earliest ones. It is recognized in the literature that the use of CAD applications with human models would be very helpful, but to our knowledge no such product is widespread nowadays.

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples)accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

Using the VERITAS tools it will be possible to evaluate alternative designs with user models, thus detecting any problems before building real prototypes. This may save time and resources and may result in products that are better designed for the specific user groups.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

BYTE is interesting in implementing the design for all philosophy in all its products, since this will guarantee their usability by all possible users. Through its participation in VERITAS BYTE will gain significant knowledge and advantage over other competitors in the area of usability evaluation using virtual reality tools. BYTE believes that this will create a competitive market advantage in the future.

BYTE is one of the leading software development companies in Greece with customers within the country and abroad, and contributes to VERITAS by providing its expertise and clientelle relationships.

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

Apart from the software development, which is the core business of BYTE, the company is closely cooperating with major office designers in Greece with a significant position internationally. The development of tools for the design and development of ergonomic and accessible office workplaces may support the development of a niche market for BYTE, tightening its cooperation with these companies.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

Considering the international attention given to universal accessibility, VERITAS is expected to have a good market potential, since it addresses a lot of the work and everyday activities. The market success will of course depend on the price of the final products. This should be paid by the companies who will wish to invest and acquire the VERITAS developments and provide in the future products of high quality and accessibility. In Greece there are major software development and office designers companies, who are innovative and will wish to explore the new opportunities offered by VERITAS.

Adriano Mencarini, Innovation & Digital Design Director, Indesit (Italy)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

VERITAS technology will support manufacturers of household appliances at all stages of product design, and we also expect it to improve the redesign and restyling of existing ones, also with special care for elderly and special users’ needs. VERITAS framework fits Indesit Company’s design vision for designing, producing and selling appliances that meet consumers’ needs as a whole. According to this vision, the design of accessible appliances must consider every impairments since the first phases and VERITAS’ tool will provide designers with a valuable support through a validated framework. . We believe in the “design for all” approach and we have done, and we continue to do, many projects with the aim to improve the accessibility of our product. Two examples are “Easy Fridge” and “Ambient Assisted Living”. The first projects is a new concept fridge design to improve usability, accessibility and intelligibility for elderly people, physically disabled and normal users. Ambient Assisted Living is a project with the aim to increase home safety, provide support in carrying out daily-living activities and thus promote the chances of elderly or people with disabilities to carry out their independent life in the home environment, especially in the kitchen

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples) accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

With VERITAS platform, the design of appliances could be improved while reducing costs for investigating the best accessible design solutions for impaired users, especially in terms of resources and time being allocated to these tasks. For example, VERITAS guidelines will support designers in considering users with motor impairment when designing of appliances with large moving parts like dishwashers or fridges; the ease of doors opening could be improved by using the VERITAS framework. Users’ cognitive capabilities could be better considered from elderly and special users’ point of view with the support of VERITAS. That will especially affect the design of user interfaces when advanced functionalities are involved, for example in oven cooking programming.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

In addition to the opportunity to have a tool that can help us to design more and more accessible products reducing time and development costs, the interest of Indesit Company to participate in such a project like Veritas is the networking with the other partners of the consortium.

On the other hand, Veritas will benefit from Indesit expertise and know-how in the development of high innovative projects focused on intuitive technology, clear and ready to use in order to make products that are more flexible, ergonomic and eco-compatible

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

User modeling analyses carried-out in VERITAS will integrate Indesit Company’s existing methodologies for design of household appliances. They could also contribute to consumers’ needs assessment, as well as help focus on requirements when designing our products. Indesit Company already carries out specific studies based on virtual reality and body tracking technologies that VERITAS modeling could drive toward higher degrees of precision and efficiency.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

VERITAS could support Indesit Company in facing new market challenges and segmentations. For example, a growth of aging population is underway, and this represents for sure a new challenge.

VERITAS design framework could improve Indesit Company’s skills and expertise in catering products that meet customers’ needs and requirements, which also meas to keep possible age-related impairments into account.

Gerrit Telkamp, CEO DOMOLOGIC Home Automation GmbH (Germany)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

I’m working in the field of domotic systems for more than 15 years now. One of the application fields of VERITAS is smart living spaces, including domotic systems for users with disabilities. The goal here is to provide a comprehensive toolset to support the planning and evaluation of those systems. Up to now, a toolset like this does not exist on the market, not I know of a comparable solution.

With the toolset developed in the VERITAS project, we will be able to evaluate and optimize a domotic system, so it will fit perfectly to the user’s needs. And we will be able to do this long before the system is installed. This will help us to save installation costs and to create better results.

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples) accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

When we plan a domotic system today (e.g. for users with disabilities), we are not able to evaluate the system before it has been finally installed. If we realize that the result is not as expected by the user, it is quite difficult and expensive to make changes.

With VERITAS, we will be able to evaluate the domotic system and its usability to the real needs of the end user. This will reduce the chance for modifications after the installation has been completed. But cost reduction it only one advantage for beneficiaries: Because it will be very easy to include new devices or functionalities during the evaluation phase, I would also expect lots of new application ideas, because results can rapidly be used to improve the system.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for VERITAS to have your company on board?

We will contribute our experiences and knowledge in the area of domotic systems to the project, what should be helpful for the smart living spaces domain. Our own interest is to work with experts in the areas of usability and virtual reality, and to develop a toolset for planning and evaluation of smart living spaces together. This will include domotic applications. We are also glad that we have also a device manufacturer like Indesit in the consortium, helping us to create realistic simulation models for existing devices.

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

In case of smart living space applications, I see many useful “cross application scenarios” together with the personal healthcare domain, especially for users with disabilities. As an example we might use environmental information (e.g. temperature, light, humidity), collected by domotic devices, when we need to make a statement regarding the health status of a disabled user. I expect that the toolset developed by VERITAS will help us to find more examples like this.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? Do you think the financial burden will be significant? Who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

The VERITAS toolset developed for the smart living applications domain will support designers and installers to customize their products, functionalities and systems specifically to the user needs. I expect the “return of investment” mainly as an indirect result of better and competitive products that can be offered to the customers. This will strengthen the market position of manufacturers using the VERITAS approach.

Hans-Joachim Wirsching, Manager Ergonomic Simulation, HUMAN SOLUTIONS GmbH (Germany)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

The current vehicle development process considers ergonomics of elderly people just in a very late phase when hardware mockups are tested with real subjects. In this phase the designer has only a limited range of possibilities to change the design. Hence elderly people are not properly addressed in the vehicle design, although demographic trends show an increase of elderly people using a car. Since the last two decades ergonomic tests have been shifted into the digital design process, in order to take human requirements on vehicle design more efficient into account. But current design tools as digital human models do not consider elderly people due to the lack of knowledge and data. The VERITAS technology considers a wide range of elderly characteristics and pushes commercial digital human models like RAMSIS forward with respect to customer acceptance. Many design questions are solved for average people, but the influence of elderly is still not answered. The application of VERITAS technologies will bring more insight in these topics. Currently I do not see other projects or approaches provide results in such a wide application range as VERITAS.

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples)accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

The decision between design alternatives is currently often made on company internal guidelines and processes, which do not consider elderly aspects. For example the reachability and operability of control devices(e.g. gear shifter, hand brake) in a car are currently checked with respect to healthy small and large people. But this does not take into account less mobility or force capabilities of elderly independent from body sizes. Successful VERITAS based tools will be included in company design processes and will cause design decisions affected also by elderly requirements. Finally elderly customers can buy cars, which are designed especially for their specific requirements.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

Our main business is development and marketing of the ergonomic design tool RAMSIS in the vehicle manufacture market. The VERITAS technologies will provide a very good fundament to extend the tool capabilities in order to match the manufacture requirements with respect to elderly customers. The development of similar technologies would impose a high invest and risk on my company to do it alone. But the cooperation of research institutes, software providers and end users in VERITAS build an optimal platform to exchange knowledge and to implement new tools very efficiently.

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

The basic literature research on elderly aspects in digital simulations gives a very important overview of the state of the art in this field and answers the questions, what is possible by now and what does need more research to be completed. In addition to the technological aspects it is very important to elaborate the detailed requirements of vehicle manufactures on elderly simulations. This is necessary to build the corresponding software solutions.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

Especially the German car manufactures see the necessity to adopt vehicle designs to requirements of an aging population. On the other side the vehicle development costs must not be increased by additional physical tests with elderly people. In this situation digital testing tools as developed in VERITAS are an optimal solution, when they fulfill the end user requirements on usability and validity. These specific testing tools are more expensive than tools considering average human beings due to the complexity of the underlying technologies and data. But since the basic research and development work will be co-funded by the VERITAS project, the final additional costs for these tools will not significantly go beyond of costs for standard tools on the market. Hence these tools have good chances to be purchased and used by car manufactures.

Thanos Tsakiris, Research Associate, CERTH-ITI (Greece)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

Infotainment is a field of computer applications, that appeals to the majority of people regardless of their age, gender or any other personal characteristic. Therefore, there is no reason why infotainment applications shouldn’t be accessible by all people, no matter what their abilities or impairments may be. The majority of infotainment applications, however, especially those targeted to a teenage or adult population, make no real effort to adhere to guidelines that would make them accessible to individuals with varying degrees of impairments. It is a very difficult, time-consuming and expensive process to locate, invite and cater for users with different impairments in order to test an infotainment application with regard to accessibility. At the same time, to my knowledge, there are few to no tools that can provide testing and feedback on accessibility issues that focus on infotainment applications in 2D and 3D environments. A number of EU projects (e.g. AEGIS, ACCESSIBLE and VICON) aim to provide a degree of accessibility evaluation of applications that use the classic WIMP (window, icon, menu, pointing device) user interface. However, none of these projects extends into infotainment-specific input and output (e.g. alternative input devices, 3D interfaces and environments) which in recent years have become the norm for infotainment applications. With the VERITAS project, we aim to provide a series of tools that will make testing for accessibility issues an integral part in the process of designing and developing computer games, multiverses and infotainment applications that use 2D, 3D or a combination of both. This, in turn, will provide an inexpensive and out-of-the box solution for companies in this sector that don’t have the capability to perform extensive research and testing with actual impaired users to determine the accessibility of their infotainment products.

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples) accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

The major problem when it comes to accessibility assessment for infotainment applications is that business-wise it is financially taxing and practically difficult to conduct with minimal return on investment. Let’s consider this example. A game development company wants to design a new multi-user online game targeted to users of all ages and both genders. Their previous game was very successful but the company received unfavorable comments regarding it’s accessibility for users with impaired vision, hearing, motor or cognitive skills. In order to test for accessibility, the only available way to them currently is to invite individuals of different groups with varying degrees of impairments and conduct testing/feedback sessions both during the design phase of the product and during later stages of development as well for confirmation. Each redesign may require new sessions of test users to reassess new or changed features. This is a time consuming and expensive process which has to be planned very early in the lifecycle of the product and could only cover a minimal set of impairments given the available budget, time constraints and practical issues involved. With the inclusion of VERITAS tools and methodology in the design/development cycle as an iterative process, the company now has access to an extensive database of virtual user models and can run simulations of any part of the product (GUI designs, Interaction methods, 3D environments, gameplay aspects etc.) with a multitude of virtual users, inexpensively and rapidly, receiving instant assessment. The benefit is two-fold. If a game developer can have inexpensive automated accessibility assessment throughout the entire design/development cycle, then business-wise it makes sense to include it since it will expand the user base without increasing the cost substantially. On the other hand, users that were previously excluded from targeted demographics of mainstream infotainment applications due to their impairments will no longer have to limit themselves to a handful of infotainment applications that were built especially for them, thus expanding their recreational, educational and communicational boundaries.

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

CERTH/ITI as a research institute, has been involved in accessibility-focused projects in Human Computer Interaction since it’s creation, participating in projects such as ENORASIS (VR tools for vision-impaired users), SIMILAR (Educational multi-modal games for users with different impairments), ACCESSIBLE (Accessibility assessment simulation environment for new applications design and development), OASIS (Open architecture for Accessible Services Integration and Standardisation) and AEGIS (Open Accessibility Framework). At the same time, we have been involved in VR and educational games projects e.g. in the Foundation of the Museum of Macedonian Studies educational 3D game, VRLab (remote experiments for students using VR technologies) and APEIRO (VR simulation of ancient Greek technology) to name but a few. Therefore, it is only natural that VERITAS, combining aspects from all the expertise we have acquired through the aforementioned projects, would be the next logical step in our research efforts. This is beneficial to both the VERITAS project, since our commitment to accessible IT is long standing and to our Institute, since VERITAS will help us to further our knowledge in this field and create more accessible products in the future.

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project)

One possible application of the user modeling research, task analysis and virtual user simulation intermediary results that are already forming as part of the work carried out in VERITAS could be the development of more advanced computer controlled NPCs (non-player characters) in games that can automatically adjust their behavior based on the user model loaded. This can result in infinately customizable game experiences tailor-made to accommodate users of varying capabilities through a unified methodology. The same goes with automatically adjusting difficulty levels of games based on the provided user models. Using the VERITAS technologies, impaired users can generate their own user models that correspond to their individual characteristics which can then be read by any VERITAS-compliant game to “inform” the game on how to adjust various aspects of the game to their specific needs. As far as multiverses go, the technologies we are developing could also be used to automatically convert inter-user communication modalities based on the users’ capabilities. For example, if a user in Second life is hearing-impaired, making use of the VERITAS tools can automatically transform audio information to other modalities to compensate.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

As is stated in the VERITAS project agreement, the majority of tools and technologies of VERITAS will be made available as open-source. This alone makes the financial burden for adopting VERITAS minimal for any size of infotainment application developer company. Although Greece has a very small infotainment application development sector, I believe VERITAS can open up a new market segment for start-up infotainment companies by adding value to any application simply by making it available to a larger user base.

Serge Boverie, R&D and innovation Manager, Continental Automotive France SAS (France)

1- What do you expect the benefit of the VERITAS technology will be in your application field? Do you know of any similar projects and/or approaches?

Their are several benefit expected from VERITAS technology within Conti. beside the expected improvement in the tools for HMI design we also expect to get some important technological feed-back (see (4))

The expected direct benefits are directly related to the design of new HMI generations and they can be summarized here after:

  • Possibility to address larger scenario
  • Reduce the designing time
  • Increase the potential acceptability
  • Development of HMI adapted to a larger population. An important focus is for Elderly persons

2- How do you expect to improve the way of designing (concrete examples)accessible solutions? What will the final outcome for beneficiaries be?

Reduction of design time and possibility to address larger scenario are the most important aspects

3- What is the interest for your company to participate in such a project? What is the added value for Veritas to have your company on board?

The interests are multiple:

  • Take profit of the partnership to provide new solution that wouldn’t have been possible to develop by our own
  • Take profit of the transfer knowledge from laboratories and public research institutes
  • Open the field of view cooperating with other applicative industries
  • Build up and reinforce the Continental partnership network

4- Besides the final results of the developed technology are there any intermediary/collateral outcomes that are important for your industry? (ex. applications used in another way or in other application fields, money to work on technologies that can be further explored and developed after the end of the project).

Collateral outcomes will be quite important. One of the important role of Continental within this project is concerned with the development of the multi sensorial platform. Within thios platform our role is to provide Vision based devices to supervise the activity of the subjects. Within this developments Continental will reinforce its know-how about vision technologies for in-vehicle monitoring. Specific tools including complex image processing algorithms are currently under development. These algo basics will be also used for real time application supervision inside future mass production HMI. Considering new HMI interactive concepts including user movement recognition.

5- What do you think the market opportunities for VERITAS are? do you think the financial burden will be significant? who would cover it? How do you see the market in your own country?

The development of new HMI concepts is something extremely critical. The need for adapted, adaptive and accepted systems (for example for driver assistance) is mandatory and HMI play in that the first role (you can have a very good assistance system with a poor HMI that will not be accepted). On the other side our society is faced with more and more elderly people (with some physical, and physiological restrictions). Thus in our mind there is a clear market for new tools that can help to get a better and adapted HMI.
Companies like Conti are clearly involved in such designs by their own.