Context-Sensitive Spatial Interaction and Ambient Control

Context-Sensitive Spatial Interaction and Ambient Control

Bernd Krieg-Brückner (Universität Bremen, Germany), Hui Shi (Universität Bremen, Germany), Bernd Gersdorf (Universität Bremen, Germany), Mathias Döhle (Universität Bremen, Germany) and Thomas Röfer (Universität Bremen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-857-5.ch024


In this chapter, we first briefly introduce the setting: mobility assistants (the wheelchair Rolland and iWalker) and smart environment control in the Bremen Ambient Assisted Living Lab. In several example scenarios, we then outline our contributions to the state of the art, focussing on spatial knowledge representation, reasoning and spatial interaction (multi-modal, but with special emphasis on natural language dialogue) between three partners: the user, a mobility assistant, and the smart environment.
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1 Seniors In Spe In The Bremen Ambient Assisted Living Lab

At the Bremen Ambient Assisted Living Lab, BAALL, new technology for Ambient Assisted Living, AAL, will be tested and evaluated for everyday usability. Figure 1 shows the overall layout as it has been realised. The BAALL is aimed at seniors in spe (seniors-to-be), a term referring to people who actively plan their future at a relatively early stage in life (e.g., when choosing an apartment or designing a house for lifelong use) with the expectation to live in this familiar environment for as long as possible. The issue is thus to anticipate the scenarios that may arise from a range of potential age-related physical or cognitive impairments and to plan ways of compensating for these impairments using technological assistance. Such a home should be designed with a basic infrastructure that allows step-by-step upgrades to be made subsequently with suitable AAL components as required in order to remove the need for major construction or adaptation work. The appeal of the BAALL is that it looks like an entirely normal apartment, albeit a well equipped one; the technological infrastructure is discreet, if visible at all.

Figure 1.

Areas in the BAALL (Simulation)

The BAALL contains all standard living areas (home office, bedroom, bathroom and dressing area, living and dining room, kitchenette) within a 60m2 apartment suitable for two people to live in on a trial basis, constructed according to the design for all principle, modelled as such after the Casa Agevole at the Sta. Lucia research hospital in Rome. One challenge in existing buildings is providing mobility assistance in confined spaces. Only too often so-called barrier-free developments may be suitable for hand-driven wheelchairs but are not necessarily compatible with power-wheelchairs. With respect to doors, the question is not only whether they are wide enough, but whether they can be remotely controlled since switches may be difficult or impossible to reach. This is just one example where we are looking for ways to evaluate the interaction of mobility assistants described in section 2 (and thus their users) with the smart environment outlined in section 3, with particular focus on spatial interaction, see sections 4 and 5.


2 Mobility Assistants

Two mobility assistants have been developed: the intelligent wheelchair Rolland and the intelligent walker iWalker. Both devices provide similar assistance but each for a different target population; see also for a more elaborate description.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobility Assistant: A mobility assistant is a mobile robot (e.g., intelligent wheelchair or walker) equipped with assistance components, such as safety assistant, driving assistant or navigation assistant, and provides mobility support for people with physical or cognitive impairments.

Spatial Ontology: A spatial ontology defines the general concepts of spatial objects and their relations for spatial application domains.

Qualitative Representation and Reasoning: The aim of the qualitative representation and reasoning research is to develop methods and techniques to reason about the behaviour of systems or human beings for predefined applications, without precise quantitative information.

Shared-Control System: A shared-control system is a system independently controlled by a user and an automation component.

Multi-Modal Interaction: Multi-modal interaction enables technical systems and their users to communicate with each other via different channels such as natural language, gesture, or graphic presentation, in addition to conventional buttons, switches, remote control panels, etc.

Spatial Calculus: Spatial calculi are mathematically well-defined models which can be used to represent spatial relations between objects, and to reason about them.

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL): In our context Ambient Assisted Living contains intelligent living environments, mobility assistants, and AI methods und techniques to enable elderly or impaired people to live independently.

Conceptual Route Graph: A qualitative spatial model that combines the Double-Cross Calculus and the Route Graph model for the interpretation of and reasoning about people’s navigation knowledge.

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