Informatics as Semiotics Engineering: Lessons Learned from Design, Development and Evaluation of Ambient Assisted Living Applications for Elderly People

Andreas Holzinger, Gig Searle, Andreas Auinger, Martina Ziefle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Assisted Living Systems with Ambient Intelligence technology raise new challenges to system and software engineering. The development of Assisted Living applications requires domain-oriented interdisciplinary research – it is essential to know both the domain and the context. It is also important that context-descriptive prototypes are: (1) an integrated description that describes system, work processes, context of use; and (2) a formal description. Because (1), designers, including end users, are provided with a means to investigate the system in the context of the envisioned work processes. Because (2), investigations into questions of formalization and automation, not only of the system, but also of the work processes, can be made explicitly and become subject for discussions and further elaboration. Adapted engineering approaches are required to cope with the specific characteristics of ambient intelligent systems. Elderly are the most demanding stakeholders for IT-development – even highly sophisticated systems will not be accepted when they do not address the real needs of the elderly and are not easily accessible and usable. Communication processes are essential in that respect. The evolution and, in particular, the spread of unambiguous symbols were an necessary postulate for the transfer of information, as for example in sign language, speech, writing, etc. In this paper, we report on our experiences in design, development and evaluation of computer applications in the area of ambient assisted living for elderly people, where, to our experiences, engineers highly underestimate the power of appropriate knowledge on semiotics and we demonstrate how we can emphasize universal access by thinking of informatics as semiotics engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversal Access in Human-Computer Interaction
Subtitle of host publicationContext Diversity - 6th International Conference, UAHCI 2011, Held as Part of HCI International 2011, Proceedings
Number of pages10
EditionPART 3
ISBN (Print)9783642216657
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventHuman Computer Interaction International 2011 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 9 Jul 201114 Jul 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
NumberPART 3
Volume6767 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceHuman Computer Interaction International 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Elderly
  • Informatics
  • Semiotic engineering


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