Research Topics

Research activities of the e-Lite group focus on designing, building and evaluating interactive and intelligent systems, and testing them in realistic settings. Novel user interaction modalities, empowered by ubiquitous devices, enable the discovery of innovative methods to approach new and existing application domains. We adopt an end-to-end research approach, where we aim at exploring the whole spectrum, from devices to users, from intelligence to data representation, to develop a systemic approach.

Currently, the application area in which we are mostly active is Ambient Intelligence.

Ambient Intelligence (AmI) aims at building a digital environment where people are surrounded by intelligent and intuitive interfaces embedded in all kinds of objects. The ultimate goal of such an environment is to support people in their daily lives in a proactive, yet sensible and unobtrusive, way.
In this wide area, we mainly focus on innovative interaction modalities for people and on the intelligent aspects (e.g., Semantic Web) of the environment, typically exploiting off-the-shelf devices and systems from the Internet of Things and Smart Home domains. We are also interested in understanding how to effectively support developers to build such systems.

Moreover, we deserve particular attention to the Ambient Assisted Living field, in which Accessibility and Assistive Technologies meets AmI. In this domain, we experiment with novel interaction modalities and systems for people with disabilities.

Active: since 2018

virtual assistantsThe usage of voice-based virtual assistants (e.g., Siri or Google Assistant) is growing, and their spread was most possible by the increasing capabilities of natural language processing, and generally has a positive impact on device accessibility, e.g., for people with disabilities. However, people with dysarthria or other speech impairments may be unable to use these virtual assistants with proficiency, within their smartphones or in their smart homes. Is this true? To which extent people with dysarthria can be understood and get consistent answers from these virtual assistants?

We answered these questions by analyzing the most common virtual assistants when faced with dysarthric speech in two different languages: English and Italian. Moreover, we adopted separate methodologies for each language.

Active: since 2017

eupont archProgramming environments for end-user development (EUD) in the Internet of Things (IoT) are becoming increasingly common. They allow users to define simple IoT applications, i.e., connections between different IoT devices and services, by mainly employing trigger-action rules. Unfortunately, the adopted representation models are highly technology-dependent, e.g., they often categorize devices and services by manufacturer or brand. Such an approach is not suitable to face the expected growth of the IoT, nor it allows to adapt to yet undiscovered IoT services.

As a consequence, numerous open questions arise: would a "higher level" of abstraction help users creating their IoT applications more effectively and efficiently compared with the contemporary representations? Which representations would users prefer? How high-level IoT applications could be actually executed? To answer these questions, we introduce EUPont, a high-level semantic model for EUD in the IoT.

Active: 2014-2018

Accessible Games for Single-Switch Interaction

Jumping ladybugs game

Small children with disabilities, especially in the pre-school age, need to develop their skills by using games and game-like environments. The educational effect of "serious games" enables educators and caregivers to involve the kids with fun and formative activities.

Falling Invaders game In the case of serious motor disabilities, when the interaction with a computer is severely hampered and the usage of a keyboard or pointing device is not possible, the choice of available educational games is greatly reduced.

Our research activity in this area focuses on defining new interaction modalities for accessible games in the educational and entertainment contexts, compatible also with severe motor disabilities.

Our research projects used and maintained outside academia, mostly open-sourced.

Explore our past and completed research projects, on various topics.