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European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics        ERCIM Working Group "User Interfaces for All"

Human Computer Confluence

Dr. Alois Ferscha

Institut für Pervasive Computing
Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria

Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing has developed a vision where “the computer” is no longer associated with the concept of a single device or a network of devices, but rather the entirety of situative services originating in a digital world, which are perceived through the physical world. It is expected that services with explicit user input and output will be replaced by a computing landscape sensing the physical world via a huge variety of sen-sors, and controlling it via a plethora of actuators. Applications and services will therefore have to be greatly based on the notions of context and knowledge, and will have to cope with highly dynamic environments and changing resources.

One of the hallmarks of Pervasive Computing is the richness promised by its human-computer interface. A future pervasive computing environment should provide the means to the user to interact and communicate with the surrounding environment in a transparent “human and natural” way involving all senses. Thus, research in this areas should be driven by interfacing with the human sensory system rather than focussing on (computer based) input and output devices, and derive new communications paradigms that enable this interfacing. A new domain of user-centric services and communication paradigms emerges, exploiting the seamless integration between people and their computerized envi-ronment. Researchers strive to broker a unified and seamless interactive framework that dynamically melds interaction across a range of modalities and devices, from interactive spaces and large display systems to near body interaction, wearable devices, in-body im-plants and direct neural input and stimulation. The traditional understanding as having an “interface” among humans and computers vaporizes both from the interaction as well as from the technology viewpoint – considering human and computer activity at a confluence appears to be a more adequate characterisation.


Dr. Alois Ferscha received his PhD degree from the University of Vienna, Austria, and joined the University of Linz in 2000 as a professor for computer science, where he is now head of the department for Pervasive Computing and the speaker of the JKU Pervasive Com-puting Initiative. He has published on topics related to parallel and distributed computing, like e.g. Computer Aided Parallel Software Engineering, Performance Oriented Distrib-uted/Parallel Program Development, Parallel and Distributed Discrete Event Simulation, Performance Modeling/Analysis of Parallel Systems and Parallel Visual Programming. Currently he is focused on Pervasive Computing, Embedded Software Systems, Wireless Communication, Multi-user Cooperation, Distributed Interaction and Distributed Interactive Simulation. He has been the project leader of several national and international projects like e.g.: Network Computing, Performance Analysis of Parallel Systems and their Work-load, Parallel Simulation of Very Large Office Workflow Models, Distributed Simulation on High Performance Parallel Computer Architectures, Modelling and Analysis of Time Con-strained and Hierarchical Systems, Broadband Integrated Satellite Network Traffic Evalua-tion and Distributed Cooperative Environments, etc. Currently he is pursuing project work related to networked embedded systems, software frameworks for context computing, co-ordination architectures and models, wireless and mobile ad-hoc net-works and sen-sor/actuator networks. In his application related work he has built context based applica-tion frameworks for the JKU "Wireless Campus" network, public community displays with wireless remote controls ("WebWall", “Digital Graffiti”), geo-enhanced, augmented reality mobile navigation systems (“SmartRoad”, “DigitalPheromones”), RFID based realtime noti-fication systems, wearable computing and embedded internet application frameworks ("DigitalAura", "SmartCase", "DigiScope").

He has been a visiting researcher at the Dipartimento di Informatica, Universita di Torino, Italy, at the Dipartimento di Informatica, Universita di Genoa, Italy, at the Computer Sci-ence Department, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, Maryland, and at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. He has served on the committees of several conferences like PERVASIVE, UMBICOMP, ISWC, WWW, PADS, DIS-RT, SIGMETRICS, MASCOTS, MSWiM, MobiWac, TOOLS, Euro-Par, PNPM, ICS, etc. Ferscha is member of the OCG, GI, ACM, IEEE and holds the Heinz-Zemanek Award for distinguished contributions in computer science.


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