Applied Informatics - Prof. Dr.-Ing. Britta Wrede

The Applied Informatics Group has been founded in 1990, since 2009 lead by Britta Wrede, acting for Gerhard Sagerer who is currently Rector of Bielefeld University and is one of the founding members of CITEC and CoR-Lab. The group is responsible for teaching in pattern recognition, image processing, speech recognition and introduction to (media-)informatics. The group’s research focus lies on modeling human-robot, and more generally human-agent interaction. The group follows a two-fold approach: on the one hand human behavior interpretation from visual and acoustic channels is investigated in order to determine communicative signals such as facial expressions, head gestures (nodding, shaking etc.) or verbal cues indicative for cognitive processes (e.g. filled pauses, rhythm etc.). On the other hand, from this perceptual input higher-level models such as user stress, user engagement or more generally the speaking situation are derived, providing context information for the interaction model. One of the group’s basic approaches is to investigate and make use of fundamental interaction principles that are derived from human-human and often more specifically from parent-infant interaction (in collaboration with Katharina Rohlfing, Germanistische und Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, University of Paderborn), with the goal to leverage them for HRI modeling, as for example for language learning (in collaboration with Philipp Cimiano, Semantic Computing Group).

As realistic scenarios are fundamental for deriving generalizable results, speech synthesis approaches that provide means for more naturalistic interaction cues are being investigated in collaboration with the Phonetics and Phonology Group (Petra Wagner) as well as incremental dialog strategies in collaboration with the Applied Computational Linguistics Group (David Schlangen) and the integration of listener feedback in a human-agent interaction in collaboration with the Social Cognitive Systems Group (Stefan Kopp).

The testbed for this research is provided by the cognitive robotics apartment, a shared laboratory of the CITEC research groups Ambient Intelligence (Thomas Hermann), the Central Lab Facilities (Sven Wachsmuth) and the Cognitive Systems Engineering Group (Sebastian Wrede) as well as a variety of robotic platforms, including the robot head Flobi, which was developed within the Applied Informatics Group in collaboration with CLF, and the cooking assistant demonstrator kogniChef developed by the Neuroinformatics Group (Helge Ritter) within the kogniHome project.