The research activities of the Ars Electronica Futurelab are an integral component of the strategy formation process in the atelier-lab’s fields of specialization. Their common denominator is R&D in the broad context of Interaction Design. Thus, research results that Futurelab project teams have come up with and the approaches that they have followed are by their very nature the outgrowth of a transdisciplinary orientation, and flow directly into prototype development at the atelier-lab.
This is also reflected in commissioned research projects. Both basic and application-oriented research are characterized by triangulation of technological, artistic and social research. Teams cross over boundaries separating discrete disciplines and thus usually chart unconventional courses to arrive at alternative approaches to solving problems. Above all in cases of crossovers and mixtures involving disciplines that are not - or not yet - established in a formal academic/institutional setting, this approach yields a particularly fruitful form of Shared Creativity and also a uniquely enhanced form of problem-solving competence.
The specific assignment and its inherent problems determine the mix of disciplines represented in the project team and its points of emphasis. For the “Instar” project, the technological approach was derived from the commissioning client’s aim to avoid directing the motorist’s attention away from the flow of traffic while his/her vehicle’s navigation system is delivering visual and acoustic routing instructions, but rather to utilize a Mixed Reality application to literally blend this process into the familiar orientation procedures drivers normally use. “Apparition”, despite its highly innovative integration of interactive sensor & tracking technology, was primarily motivated by artistic research. In 2004, the creative implementation of leading-edge technological developments in dance theater laid the foundation for the establishment of novel practices in the performance of works on the stage and the definition of a new genre. “Motionscapes” addresses a social issue: integrating and providing therapy for people with central nervous system disorders. Interactive environments enable those afflicted- above all, children - to recognize and learn the effects of their own movements on their surroundings by means of audiovisual feedback-loop-based applications that are custom-tailored to the nature of the individual’s specific disorder and that activate the patient to consciously control his/her movements.
T“Transfer” , on the other hand, is a research project targeting the innovation needs of regional small & mid-sized companies. In the framework of Austria's REGplus structural development program, the Ars Electronica Futurelab was recognized as a so-called impulse center and assigned the task of establishing stronger links between R&D and the regional economy and, on the basis of an empirical survey of local needs, carrying out projects to strengthen the innovativeness and competitiveness of small & mid-sized companies in Upper Austria. What has come out of this has been both R&D for companies and company networks as well as targeted training courses and workshops for the transfer of specific know-how (Consulting).
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