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Amplifying human senses by technology

Prof. Albrecht Schmidt with Eye Tracker


SimTech Professor Albrecht Schmidt receives Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). The project AMPLIFY will be funded by two million Euros.

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Amplifying human senses by technology

Prof. Albrecht Schmidt mit Eye Tracker

"To amplify" also means to reinforce, to extend and to deepen. The computer scientist Albrecht Schmidt focuses on humans. In his project AMPLIFY, he wants the senses of humans to be extended by technical sensor systems. Prof. Schmidt was able to solicit one of the coveted Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council. The Grant promotes Schmidt and his group in the next five years with around two million Euros.


With AMPLIFY, new and advanced artificial human senses are being developed. So-called cognitive tools are evolved by means of digital technologies which are used naturally and intuitively. In addition, Schmidt pursues with his project the vision of creating artificial reflexes by using artificial perception and synthetic stimuli. In this way one could e.g. develop an artificial reflex for the lack of movement, which thus serves health.

Albrecht Schmidt konnte den ERC überzeugen

The research in human-computer interaction is the key discipline to process intelligent systems. Above all, intuitive collaboration between humans and computers plays a crucial role. The field of perception and cognition in machine as well as for humans has always been very interesting for him, says Albrecht Schmidt. "With the AMPLIFY project, I can explore something that has a striking effect. I was aiming at this for quite a long time", says the computer scientist. The special feature of AMPLIFY is that he as a computer scientist can build a prototype and then test it out over a longer period and develop it further.

New glasses for a new class of seeing

Entwurf einer elektronischen Sinneserweiterung

Albrecht Schmidt plans interalia the development of special glasses that enhance the natural sense of sight of people - for example by representing other spectra than the human eye is able to. Schmidt has the vision of glasses that one can control by concentration and thoughts. Looking out of the window one will be able to zoom in on a detail which is one kilometer away. Such cognitive tools will give the people skills they did not possess without them. For example to see the world more clearly.

Working with technologies such as EMG, EEG and eye tracking human behavior is measured for the development of intuitive use. Electromyography (EMG) is an electrophysiological method with which the electrical muscle activity can be measured. The so-called electroencephalography (EEG) measures the electrical activity of the brain. During Eye Tracking the eye movements of a person are recorded. The expansion of sensory perception should at best not be perceived by the user. By this means a natural movement like the intuitive squinting of eyes in a specific viewing direction should lead to an automatic zoom of the glasses.

Ubiquitous technologies

"Computers are not better than humans. But the combination of human and computer is better than each alone", says Schmidt. He hopes to create a ubiquitous technology and to give the people thus skills that are still regarded as "supernatural".

In the field of human-computer interaction research, computer science meets other disciplines such as psychology. With the EU funding, the group will bring a neuroscientist on board, who designs the studies and interventions for the computer scientists at the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems.

Despite the developer spirit, Albrecht Schmidt will use the funding period especially for basic research in the field of brain-computer interface and expansion of sensory perception. In the long term he would like to, however, generate new interesting projects from the results of the basic research.

About Prof. Albrecht Schmidt

Prof. Schmidt is doing research for many years in the field of human-computer interaction. His research interests include context-aware mobile devices, implicit interaction, embedded interaction, new sensors for interaction and cognitive support of interactive technologies.

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Good news for the Clusters of Excellence

SRC Simulation Technology


The Imboden Commission for the evaluation of the German Excellence Initiative rated the concept of Clusters of Excellence as successful and recommends their continuation after 2017.

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Good news for the Clusters of Excellence

The evaluation commission of the Excellence Initiative by the Swiss physicist and research manager Dieter Imboden has published its results on 29 January 2016. The judgment of the International Committee of Experts on the evaluation of the Excellence Initiative (IEKE) is a decision basis for the consultation between federal and state governments on the continuation of the Excellence Initiative. Imboden points the way to a new, performance-based round of the Excellence Initiative. His report shows that the Clusters of Excellence have led to a qualitative increase in performance in research. In this way, they have made significant differences in research performance of universities.>

SRC Simulation Technology

"The Excellence Initiative made German science more energetic and dynamic" says the Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka. She stressed that the Clusters of Excellence got the German research sector into shape for international competition: "German cutting-edge research can compete with the world. The research achievements have increased; many higher education institutions have strategically realigned and sharpened their profiles. The goal to strengthen cutting-edge research at universities for international competition is and remains crucial." In fact, the German universities became more attractive for foreign scientists since the competition was first announced. Both, among the graduate students as well as among the professors there are more people who didn’t go to school in Germany. As part of the Excellence Initiative, 30 percent researchers were employed who had previously worked abroad.

According to Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Science Theresia Bauer, the recommendations of the Imboden Committee support the universities in the country which are strong in research. According to the Imboden report, especially the principle of Clusters of Excellence (which have received between five and seven million Euros a year each) has to be continued. In the further promotion of the Clusters of Excellence, the Commission requests for more money, more time and more freedom for science than previously. They think of up to twelve million Euros, paid to the Clusters over seven to eight years annually. The longer duration is to keep administrative burdens low, and thus targeting the actual research capacity.

At the same time universities will get a bigger award for more leeway, the so-called "excellence prize". The ten strongest universities in Germany will receive this premium. Thereby, the competition for future concepts is dropped because "future concepts lose their character when the future has to be reinvented every few years," says the Commission.

500 million Euros annually should be made available to continue and to intensify the positive effects of the Excellence Initiative, requests the Imboden report.

Also, the Cluster of Excellence SimTech wants to set up (newly) in the competition for the excellence and millions. "SimTech now stands for a trademark for excellent research in the field of simulation technology. We are leading in this field in Germany. We want to use our successes of the past nine years to tie more it," said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ehlers, director and spokesman for our Stuttgart Cluster.


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Industrial cooperation for car safety

Validierung für Simulationen in der Biomechanik


Junior professor Syn Schmitt is doing research concerning safety solutions for future cars at the new “Tech Center i-protect“ which is supported by the “Leistungszentrum Nachhaltigkeit“.

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Industrial cooperation: Simulation technology for safe cars

Bei der Unterzeichnung

On thursday, 21 January 2016, junior professor Syn Schmitt signed a Cooperation Agreement within his assistance at “Tech Center i-protect“. The cooperation partners are interalia Daimler AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft including Fraunhofer Institute for Material Mechanics (IWM) and Fraunhofer Institute for short-term dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institute (EMI) Freiburg, the Dresden University of Technology and Graz University of Technology.

The “Tech Center i-protect“ is one of the pilot projects of “Leistungszentrum Nachhaltigkeit“ in Freiburg, which is supported by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg with around 5 Million Euros. These projects shall find answers to topics like sustainable materials, energy systems as well as ecological and social transformation.

An important topic in the “car region” Baden-Württemberg is the investigation for new solutions on car safety, says Minister of Finance and Economy Nils Schmid. At the ”Tech Center i-protect“ exactly these safety approaches are developed for future vehicles. The research is about technologies for crash situations as well as systems that intervene before the accident happens in order to improve the passenger protection. Within an integral safety approach the researchers take a look at driver, vehicle and other road users like pedestrians and cyclists.

Der Stuttgarter Juniorprofessor Syn Schmitt

With his work within the ”Tech Center i-protect“, junior professor Syn Schmitt makes a big contribution to the field of biomechanical research. Using methods of computational biomechanics, he can safely find out which forces have an effect on the body of a person in a car crash and what kind of damage potential results from that. Simulation technologies in the field of biomechanics allow the virtual investigation of these questions (which can’t be measured at a living organism) by the use of computer models. Therefore, the SimTech-scientist uses engineering methods on a base of discrete mechanics and continuum mechanics to finally adapt them to biomechanical needs.

Validierung für Simulationen in der Biomechanik

At the “Tech Center i-protect“, radiographs and simulation data are combined with algorithms from computer tomography. By the consideration of these data, it will be possible to save a three-dimensional image of the highly dynamic deformation processes during a crash. By this means, simulations and hence vehicle safety can be improved.

The motor for sustainable innovation is the cooperation between industry and science, especially when strong partners like in the “Tech Center i-protect“ come together, says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the executive board of the Robert Bosch AG. Besides of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, the Daimler AG provides 5 million Euros and the Robert Bosch GmbH 1 million Euros. “At the ‚Tech Center i-Protect‘ powerful teams of industry and science from different regions are working together in order to bring research results in the field of integrated security even faster in to the vehicles.”, says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler Board of Management, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. Also the university and the Fraunhofer society take part at the financing of this project with in total 5 million Euros.

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