Projekt CYTEMEX (Cyberphysische Telepräsenzsysteme zur Erforschung der Mensch-zu-X-Kommunikation)

The project is a scientific cooperation between the labs of Audiovisual Technology, Virtual Worlds and Digital Games (Prof. Wolfgang Broll, Faculty of Economics and Media) and Electronic Media Technology (Dr. Stephan Werner / Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology).

The project, funded by the Free State of Thuringia, was co-financed by the European Union within the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The rapid developments in the areas of virtual, augmented and mixed reality (VR / AR / MR) as well as the so-called cyber-physical systems (CPS) open up considerable opportunities for improved multimedia communication. Appropriate new types of digital technologies enable, in addition to more extensive and improved methods for human-machine interaction, above all extended, holistic ways of human-human communication ("human-to-X"), even across distances. It can be expected that future telepresence systems will enable a multimedia-mediated co-presence (the feeling of being together) that promotes the maintenance of both quality of life and cognitive and physical abilities in medical and psychotherapeutic care and care for the elderly or sick people. Such systems enable holistic social interaction with relatives and specialist staff even over distances that are otherwise difficult to overcome. Completely new forms of therapy can also be implemented. In addition, research results on "human-to-X" communication also provide essential findings for areas such as Industry 4.0, e.g. for remote work, collaboration and support.

Due to their evolutionary training without technical systems, direct human-human communication is characterized by physical co-presence or proximity. Today's technologies for video telephony or multimedia conferencing offer basic audiovisual telecommunications, but generally cannot achieve actual co-presence, since the communication medium cannot transmit all aspects of the communication. Current (video) telephony systems, for example, mostly cannot create the feeling that all communication partners are actually in one room. Examples of a lack of co-presence are an imperfect immersion in current audiovisual telepresence systems (no 3D representation of conversation partners or unnatural image reproduction), the lack of other sensory information (e.g. no haptic feedback) as well as severely restricted possibilities for interaction and movement (e.g. due to static microphone and camera setups).

At TU Ilmenau, technical possibilities for overcoming these restrictions are to be researched. In particular, it is to be investigated what influence such advanced or new telepresence technologies have on communication and social ties as well as the success of any therapeutic measures. For this purpose, CYTEMEX as an infrastructure project should provide both the technology for prototypical VR / AR / MR-based telepresence and cyber-physical systems, as well as an infrastructure for valid recording of the physiological state of the people involved and their experience in using the technological prototypes.