The research mission of the User Centered Engineering program is to design, develop, implement and evaluate new interaction concepts for human-system interaction. UCE research is focused on understanding the human aspects of the interaction of people with intelligent systems. The UCE group strongly believes that systems can only earn the human-approved ‘certificate’ intelligent if they support natural interaction and if they behave in a meaningful and appropriate way in their everyday context. What is considered natural, meaningful and appropriate is first and foremost determined by humans who interact with the system or by humans interacting with each other through the system (mediated interaction).
The User Centered Engineering group takes this human perspective as the focus for its research on human-system interaction. By bringing together technology and insights from cognitive and social psychology in the design process, the UCE group:
- Creates and explores concepts for natural interaction that contribute to better interfacing of systems to humans,
- Investigates the applicability of relevant enabling technologies through their deployment and integration in different problem domains, and
- Develops design and evaluation methods that establish a close coupling between concept development and the goals, needs and desires of the users.
The user-centered ‘research through design’ activities carried out by the members of the UCE group are focussed on two (broad) classes of intelligent systems:
- Awareness systems that support sustained interaction between individuals or groups and that allow people to build up and maintain with little effort an understanding of the activities of each other. In this way, awareness systems can, for example, support social presence and connectedness.
- Systems that support Co-located Mediated Interaction, i.e., systems that support people at the same location in interacting with each other and with physical artefacts in order to reach a common goal or target.