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
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6767)


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.


Semiotic engineering Informatics Elderly 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Holzinger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gig Searle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andreas Auinger
    • 3
  • Martina Ziefle
    • 4
  1. 1.Medical University GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Medical InformaticsResearch Unit Human-Computer InteractionGraz
  3. 3.Research Department for Digital EconomyUniversity of Applied Sciences Upper AustriaAustria
  4. 4.Communication Science, Human Technology Centre (Humtec)RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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