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A Million in Funding for a Laboratory Network at the Universities in Chemnitz, Jena and Magdeburg

The “Product and Systems Design Lab” from the Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management provides a sustainable boost to the core competence of “Humans and Technology”

  • Women uses VR glasses in the lab
    Stefanie Rockstroh of the Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management uses VR glasses to control a system. These types of simulation tools are researched and used in the “ProSyD Lab”. Photo: Arvid Müller

The Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Angelika C. Bullinger-Hoffmann, has successfully raised funds for a new laboratory, which will focus on the design, simulation and evaluation of human-technology interaction in products and systems. The so-called “Product and Systems Design Lab”, or ProSyD Lab, for short, will be funded by the Feder Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), as a part of the Allianz 3Dsensationals portion of the “Twenty20 Partnership for Innovation”, to the tune of around 800.000 euros. This represents the largest single investment to date at Chemnitz University of Technology in the field of the “Humans and Technology” core competence.

A unique laboratory network with universities in Jena and Magdeburg

The Chemnitz laboratory will be supplemented by two smaller labs – one for human-robot interaction, and one for AR/VR in high-tech education – at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg and Friedrich Schiller University Jena, respectively. This is a new cross-national laboratory network that is spearheaded by the Professorship for Ergonomics and Innovation Management and goes by the name “Human-Machine Interaction Labs – Laboratories for Simulation and Evaluation for Applications of Human-Technology Interaction”. “The aim of 3Dsensation is to fundamentally change the interaction between human and machine by bringing together physics, computer science and cognitive and ergonomic science,” explains Bullinger-Hoffmann. The two laboratories in Jena and Magdeburg are being funded by the BMBF as a part of the Allianz 3Dsensation with just under half a million euros.

Design, simulate and evaluation – the triad for products and system of tomorrow

With the new “ProSyD Lab” at Chemnitz University of Technology, which is scheduled to begin work on the Erfenschlager Str. campus in spring 2020, virtual and highly immersive work in the area of human-technology interaction will be possible. Through current equipment in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), work and life situations can be realistically simulated and evaluated. Whether human-robot collaborations, display systems for assembly and production assistance or human-technology interactions in areas such as vehicle or medicine, there are hardly any limits. “The simulation enables early testing of application concepts. It allows us to investigate usability, acceptance and trust issues in new applications prior to the availability of the first physical prototypes,” says Dr. Frank Dittrich, Head of the Product Engineering cluster at the Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management. AR/VR technologies are safe for users and efficient for companies. “Security-critical usage contexts, for example in the field of human-robot collaboration or with autonomous driving, can be safely designed, simulated and tested,” adds Dittrich.

Ergonomics for tomorrow: innovative technology research and transfer

In the “ProSyD Lab”, extensive simulation tools are installed, and are then examined by the occupational scientists and used for their research and transferred into practice. These include, for example, VR goggles with motion tracking, a 180-degree 3D projection screen and autostereoscopic displays that allow three-dimensional vision without additional aids. Acoustic and haptic simulation technologies, such as ultrasonic non-contact feedback, support these realistic simulations. In addition, the laboratory will be equipped with measuring systems for the detection of physiological and psychological factors. For example, a mobile motion-capturing system will enable subjects to record their movements for ergonomic examinations, or perhaps to study virtual avatars while working in virtual factories or in office workplaces. “Together with the existing infrastructure at the Erfenschlager campus, for example the METEOR Haus or the Experimental and Digital Factory, the new equipment will allow both the research of future human-machine interaction as well as the transfer from our labs to the shop floor at our mid-tier business partners. In our ProSyD Lab, companies will have the opportunity in the future to try out existing 3D technologies in the production environment, and research them along with us,” says Michael Wächter, Head of the Hybrid Societies cluster at the Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management. In this way, the professorship strengthens its competencies in the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center Chemnitz, where it has supported SMEs through joint implementation projects in areas such as digitisation since 2016.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Angelika C. Bullinger-Hoffmann, Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management at Chemnitz University of Technology, Phone: +49(0)371 531-23210, E-mail awi@tu-chemnitz.de.

Further information about the Allianz 3Dsensation can be found at https://www.3d-sensation.de, and info about the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center Chemnitz can be found at https://betrieb-machen.de.

Publication note: The study titled “Get a Grip: Multi-Method Evaluation for Handles on the Shop Floor” by Prof. Dr. Angelika C. Bullinger-Hoffmann, Dr. Michael Wächter and Danny Rüffert presents the overall topic and potential applications of the laboratory. It is first available online, at the following link: https://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2019.1681502.

(Translation: Jeffrey Karnitz)

Mario Steinebach
26.11.2019

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