Room-sized immersive environments and interactive 3D spaces can support powerful visualizations and provide remarkable X-reality experiences to users. However, designing and developing applications for such spaces, in which user interaction takes place not only by gestures, but also through body movements is a demanding task. At the same time, contemporary software development methods and human-centered design mandate short iteration cycles and incremental development of prototypes. In this context, traditional design and software prototyping methods can no longer cope up with the challenges imposed by such environments. In this paper, we introduce an integrated technological framework for rapid prototyping of X-reality applications for interactive 3D spaces, featuring real-time person and object tracking, touch input support and spatial sound output. The framework comprises the interactive 3D space, and an API for developers.
With the emergence of the Ambient Intelligence (AmI) paradigm, Intelligent Environments became a reality and have already permeated various domains of everyday life such as work, health, entertainment and education. The Intelligent Classroom of ICS-FORTH, adheres to the human-oriented nature of AmI environments -whose primary goal is to satisfy the needs of the people living in them- and features a collection of interdependent technologically-enhanced artefacts (i.e., desk, teacher’s workstation, whiteboard) that are capable of exchanging information and communicating with each other, offering a unified interaction experience. The student’s desk is a key classroom artefact, where students spend most of their class time, so this work aspiring to enhance their daily educational activities introduces an Intelligent Desk, namely modDesk, featuring a modular design. Its construction allows customizable surfaces to be added or removed on demand, so as to support the specific and different needs of each course. Considering that related studies recommend to equip students with a display along with an appropriate input method as it would be beneficial for the educational process, the surfaces of modDesk feature built-in monitors and input devices, but also enable students to connect their handheld devices (e.g., Smartphones, Tablets). Via sophisticated mechanisms the desk identifies any external devices that are docked to its surface or that are in close proximity, and determines the capabilities they offer. Based on the identified capabilities, modDesk adapts to offer better support to the student. This new generation desk aims to further increase students’ engagement and motivation, providing hands-on experience and offering personal study spaces featuring specialized equipment.
Abstract— Considering the prevalence of Ambient Intelligence, this work aims to enhance the interaction between farmers and Intelligent Environments, in order to support their various daily Agricultural activities, aspiring to improve the quality and quantity of cultivated species. Towards this direction, the Greta system was designed and developed, following a user-centered design process, permitting farmers/agronomists to easily monitor and control an Intelligent Greenhouse via a set of useful and usable applications. Greta offers a progressive web app (PWAs) targeting PCs, handheld devices, and technologically-enhanced artifacts of Smart Homes, while it also delivers an Augmented Reality application that visualizes the greenhouse’s interior conditions in a sophisticated manner, and provides context-sensitive assistance regarding cultivation activities. In more detail, the system interoperates with the ambient facilities of an Intelligent Greenhouse allowing end-users to: monitor the conditions inside the greenhouse, remotely control the state of various actuators, be notified regarding the available/active automations, be aware of the optimal conditions for their plants to grow and receive relevant guidelines, be informed regarding any diseases, and communicate with experts for receiving treatment advice. This work describes the design methodology and functionality of Greta, and documents the results of a series of expert-based evaluation experiments.
High stress levels and sleep deprivation may cause several mental or physical health issues, such as depression, impaired memory, decreased motivation, obesity, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced unprecedented changes in our lives, generating significant stress, and worries about health, social isolation, employment, and finances. To this end, nowadays more than ever, it is crucial to deliver solutions that can help people to manage and control their stress, as well as to reduce sleep disturbances, so as to improve their health and overall quality of life. Technology, and in particular Ambient Intelligence Environments, can help towards that direction, when considering that they are able to understand the needs of their users, identify their behavior, learn their preferences, and act and react in their interest. This work presents two systems that have been designed and developed in the context of an Intelligent Home, namely CaLmi and HypnOS, which aim to assist users that struggle with stress and poor sleep quality, respectively. Both of the systems rely on real-time data collected by wearable devices, as well as contextual information retrieved from the ambient facilities of the Intelligent Home, so as to offer appropriate pervasive relaxation programs (CaLmi) or provide personalized insights regarding sleep hygiene (HypnOS) to the residents. This article will describe the design process that was followed, the functionality of both systems, the results of the user studies that were conducted for the evaluation of their end-user applications, and a discussion about future plans.
This work blends the domain of Precision Agriculture with the prevalent paradigm of Ambient Intelligence, so as to enhance the interaction between farmers and Intelligent Environments, and support their various daily Agricultural activities, aspiring to improve the quality and quantity of cultivated plants. In this paper, two systems are being presented, namely the Intelligent Greenhouse and the AmI seedbed, targeting a wide range of agricultural activities starting from planting the seeds, caring each individual sprouted plant up to their transplantation in the greenhouse, where the provision for the entire plantation lasts until the harvesting period.
While the body of research focusing on Intelligent Environments (IEs) programming by adults is steadily growing, informed insights about children as programmers of such environments are limited. Previous work already established that young children can learn programming basics. Yet, there is still a need to investigate whether this capability can be transferred in the context of IEs, since encouraging children to participate in the management of their intelligent surroundings can enhance responsibility, independence, and the spirit of cooperation. We performed a user study (N=15) with children aged 7-12, using a block-based, gamified AR spatial coding prototype allowing to manipulate smart artifacts in an Intelligent Living room. Our results validated that children understand and can indeed program IEs. Based on our findings, we contribute preliminary implications regarding the use of specific technologies and paradigms (e.g. AR, trigger-action programming) to inspire future systems that enable children to create enriching experiences in IEs.
Culture is a field that is currently entering a revolutionary phase, no longer being a privilege for the few, but expanding to new audiences who are urged to not only passively consume cultural heritage content, but actually participate and assimilate it on their own. In this context, museums have already embraced new technologies as part of their exhibitions, many of them featuring augmented or virtual reality artifacts. The presented work proposes the synthesis of augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies to provide unified X-Reality experiences in realistic virtual museums, engaging visitors in an interactive and seamless fusion of physical and virtual worlds that will feature virtual agents exhibiting naturalistic behavior. Visitors will be able to interact with the virtual agents, as they would with real world counterparts. The envisioned approach is expected to not only provide refined experiences for museum visitors, but also achieve high quality entertainment combined with more effective knowledge acquisition.
The proliferation of Internet of Things devices and services and their integration in everyday environments led to the emergence of intelligent offices, classrooms, conference, and meeting rooms that adhere to the paradigm of Ambient Intelligence. Usually, the type of activities performed in such environments (i.e., presentations and lectures) can be enhanced by the use of large Interactive Boards that—among others—allow access to digital content, promote collaboration, enhance the process of exchanging ideas, and increase the engagement of the audience. Additionally, the board contents are expected to be plenty, in terms of quantity, and diverse, in terms of type (e.g., textual data, pictorial data, multimedia, figures, and charts), which unavoidably makes their manipulation over a large display tiring and cumbersome, especially when the interaction lasts for a considerable amount of time (e.g., during a class hour). Acknowledging both the shortcomings and potentials of Interactive Boards in intelligent conference rooms, meeting rooms, and classrooms, this work introduces a sophisticated framework named CognitOS Board, which takes advantage of (i) the intelligent facilities offered by the environment and (ii) the amenities offered by wall-to-wall displays, in order to enhance presentation-related activities. In this article, we describe the design process of CognitOS Board, elaborate on the available functionality, and discuss the results of a user-based evaluation study.
Sleep is important for many vital functions. Unfortunately, many people suffer from sleep-related problems, which have negative consequences on sleep quality and therefore on quality of life. Considering the important health benefits of a good night’s sleep, it is crucial to investigate technological solutions that promote and improve sleep hygiene. To that end, the HypnOS framework for “Intelligent Homes” is introduced, aiming to improve the sleep quality of home residents by monitoring their sleep and providing personalized recommendations to overcome sleep-related issues. It describes the design process that was followed, presents its functionality, reports the findings of an expert-based evaluation of the HypnOS mobile app and discusses future plans.
Virtual reality (VR) has re-emerged as a low-cost, highly accessible consumer product, and training on simulators is rapidly becoming standard in many industrial sectors. However, the available systems are either focusing on gaming context, featuring limited capabilities or they support only content creation of virtual environments without any rapid prototyping and modification. In this project, we propose a code-free, visual scripting platform to replicate gamified training scenarios through rapid prototyping and VR software design patterns. We implemented and compared two authoring tools: a) visual scripting and b) VR editor for the rapid reconstruction of VR training scenarios. Our visual scripting module is capable of generating training applications utilizing a node-based scripting system, whereas the VR editor gives user/developer the ability to customize and populate new VR training scenarios directly from the virtual environment. We also introduce action prototypes, a new software design pattern suitable to replicate behavioral tasks for VR experiences. In addition, we present the training scenegraph architecture as the main model to represent training scenarios on a modular, dynamic and highly adaptive acyclic graph based on a structured educational curriculum. Finally, a user-based evaluation of the proposed solution indicated that users—regardless of their programming expertise—can effectively use the tools to create and modify training scenarios in VR.