PhD thesis: Context-Aware Assistive Systems for Augmented Work. A Framework Using Gamification and Projection

At May 21st I finished my PhD in Computer Science at the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems (VIS) at the University of Stuttgart. The advisors were Prof. Dr. Albrecht Schmidt from the VIS and Prof. Dr. Fillia Makedon from the Universiy of Texas Alington (UTA). The work is based on the project ASLM acquired by Prof. Dr. Thomas Hörz from the University of Applied Sciences Esslingen and was continued in the project motionEAP.

Diss-CoverThe PhD is situated in the University of Stuttgart’s SimTech Cluster and was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. It is published as “Open Source” – this means you can download and distribute this work freely as long as you indicate the source:

Context-Aware Assistive Systems for Augmented Work. A Framework Using Gamification and Projection (PDF, 7.7 MB)

If you prefer a printed version you can order it at Lulu Press.


assistive systems, assistive technologies, gamification, projection, motion recognition, context-aware, game design, human computer interaction, HCI, elderly, impaired, ethics, digital factory, cyber-physical systems, CPS


While context-aware assistive systems (CAAS) have become ubiquitous in cars or smartphones, most workers in production environments still rely on their skills and expertise to make the right choices and movements.

The quality gates currently established by the industry successfully remove “waste” i.e. failed work results from the workflow, but they usually operate in a spatial and temporal distance from the workplace and the worker. Thus workers lack the opportunity to learn from problems on the fly and to improve their work habits.

Today’s motion recognition systems already allow to continuously analyze work actions. The corresponding middleware can interpret these actions in real-time and
micro projectors allow to display work-relevant information directly into a worker’s field of vision. Thus the technical pre-requisites for CAAS with instant feedback
directly at the workplace essentially have been established.

Although every worker would benefit from context-aware assistive systems, impaired persons and elderly persons with reduced physical and mental capabilities require such systems the most. CAAS have the potential to empower these persons to do more complex work or to remain in regular jobs longer. Thus they combine economic
benefits with inclusion and address the demographic change.

After an overview of the relevant backgrounds from ethics, psychology, computer science and engineering as well as the relevant state-of-the-art, we establish requirements which result in a model for ideal CAAS. As the framework aims to improve not only the work results but also the work process and thus the workers’ motivation, the model incorporates elements from game design. This process of “gamifying” real-world actions is called gamification.

We describe an exemplary implementation covering essential aspects of the model. The effects of both the augmentation by projection and by gamification are evaluated with impaired persons in a sheltered work organization using empirical methods common in human computer interaction. An additional focus lies on the ethical implications of assistive systems which supervise and model their users in real-time.

While this thesis represents a starting point for research on CAAS in workplaces, important aspects like real-time error tracking or the integration of emotion detection are still subjects of future research. We hope that future CASS based on this work will help to make work not only more productive but also more enjoyable and motivating for workers.

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