Joachim Machate Interactive Products, Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart, Germany
Smart home or the home of the future: A notion which is often used when describing the connection of electronic home devices, the exchange of information between actors and sensors via home bus protocols. In her book "Computers As a Theatre", Brenda Laurel put forward the question: "Why don't all the great electronic and micro-processor-based gadgets we have or might have in our home talk to each other?" ( Laurel 1991) Meanwhile, this can positively be answered. E.g. Negroponte described a scenario, in which a toaster provides the morning toast with the actual stock rates of the favorite stocks burned in ( Negroponte 1995). So, technology is ready to use. But, how can it contribute to more safety and an enhance of quality of life? How do we interact with it? Which concepts are easy to learn and to use, and moreover provide fun when using them? This paper focuses on the use of multimodal interaction concepts in smart home environments for elderly and disabled people. A hypothesis is, that using speech and gestures, combining them to deictic expressions, and establishing clearly organized graphical user interfaces will contribute to a natural interaction behavior, which is highly accepted by the majority of all users, and hence is contributing to a "design for all" philosophy ( Cooper & Ferreira 1998).
When talking nowadays about smart homes or home automation concepts, the focus often lies on technical grounds regarding home network infrastructures, ecological aspects, e.g. energy saving, and higher comfort. Smart home providers and manufactures put most of their effort in developing new home network topologies, but only little effort in interaction concepts which are