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Vienna University of Technology
Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology - Centre for Applied Assistive Technologies

 Contact data
StreetFavoritenstr. 11/187-2b 
ZIP, City, Region 1040 - Vienna (Vienna) 
EmailSend Email
 Contact person

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zagler (Head of unit)
 Employees (Total)
Total: 11-50  number of researches: 8

 Central aim of organisation
Research and development of assistive technology for persons with disability and/or elderly persons to support quallity of life and autonomy

 Briefly describe your organisation
Established in 1986 the Research Group for Rehabilitation Technology (fortec) forms a leading centre of expertise for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology in Austria. The multidisciplinary team consists of seven scientists plus supporting and administrative personnel. fortec’s expertise is in R&D of assistive devices for disabled and older people mainly in the areas sensory substitution, alternative and augmentative communication, smart living environments, mobility support, user interface design, system evaluation and validation and ethical dimensions regarding involvement of vulnerable persons in technology development. Fortec is committed to user-driven research and employs as a general rule broad interaction with users during all phases of a project. Members of fortec are present in all significant conferences in the field of assistive technology and have produced more than 140 scientific publications over the last 10 years. From the 16 EU funded projects which fortec has carried out in FP 4, FP 5, FP6 and FP 7 (seven of them as coordinator) the most relevant can be found below.

 Core Competency

Research & Development

 ICT sectors:
   - E-Inclusion     
   - Ambient Assisted Living (Services for the Elderly)     
   - ICT Applications for Health      
   - Standardisation     
   - Usability Engineering     
   - Internet Technologies     
   - Pervasive Computing     
   - Robotics     
   - Man-Machine Interaction     
   - Artificial Intelligence     
   - Speech Technology     
   - Sensor Technology     
   - RFID     

 ICT keywords
Design for all, Smart home, Technology for disabled and elderly persons, Assistive technology, Ambient Assisted Living (AAL), Ambient Intelligence (AmI), Design for All
 RTD Experiences & Publications

 My organisation has been involved in projects funded by the following EU-programmes
  Coordinator  Partner 
EU Framework Programme (FP)
Ambient Assisted Living (Art. 169)
Other international co-operative research

 Austrian Research and Development Projects
  Coordinator  Partner 
Non-cooperative Projects (Single projects)        
Cooperative Projects
Education Projects (Thesis, ..)
Stimulation and Support Projects

 RTD Experience
The focus of fortecs activities is on applied research and development of innovative systems and services for disabled and/or old persons. Our activities cover analyses of user needs, development of concepts and prototypes, evaluation of prototypes in laboratory and in real life settings. We have very close contacts to and co-operations with user organisations e.g. day care centre for MS-patients, centre for multiple impaired children, provider of senior alarm systems and services, rescue organisations, non profit organisations for visually impaired persons, schools for handicapped children, schools for visually impaired children. We have elaborate expertise in tests with users, in user centred design and in management of EU funded research projects (mainly ICT).

From the 16 EU funded projects which fortec has carried out in FP 4, FP 5, FP6 and FP 7 (seven of them as coordinator) the most relevant can be found below.

• SILC – Supporting Independently living Citizens (FP5/IST): Development of a wrist worn sensor based multi-purpose alarm and life sign monitoring system for disabled and old people.
• MORE - Mobile Rescue Phone (FP4/TIDE): The MORE-project redesigned existing mobile phones by simplifying the user interface in order to meet the manifold needs of elderly and disabled people. Additionally an efficient access to emergency services and integration of GPS-localisation was realised.
• RESORT – Remote Service of Rehabilitation Technology (FP4/TAP): In this project a system and a service were developed for remotely supporting disabled AT users and their AT devices.
• SART - Summer Academy for Rehabilitation Technology (INTERREG II): SART provided a profound education in rehabilitation technology to persons engaged in care or support of disabled and/or fragile elderly persons. SART gave lectures both in theoretical and practical aspects of assistive technology (AT).
• LEARN-ED - Remote Access to Education (COPERNICUS): The project developed and evaluated remote access techniques allowing students with disabilities to participate in the life of a University or Higher Education Establishment.
• POVES - Portable Opto-electronic Vision Enhancement System (FP4/TIDE): POVES tackled visual impairments which cannot be compensated by conventional optical methods. A battery operated portable image processing system for night blind persons was developed.
• TeleSHIP - A Telecom Service for Hearing Impaired Persons: Austria together with Hungary did research on a test version of a relay centre working as a bridge between text and voice telephony.
• FRR – Friendly Rest Room (FP5/QoL): Prototypes of new user friendly assistive toilets for older persons and/or persons with disabilities were developed. Most of the elements of the FRR adjust to the individual needs of older persons with functional limitations or disabilities, allowing them to gain greater autonomy, independence, self-esteem, dignity, safety, improved self-care and therefore enable them to enjoy a better quality of life.
• FASTY – Faster Typing for Disabled People (FP5/IST): FASTY created a system for increasing the text generation rate of disabled persons by predictive typing and dedicated advanced input devices.
• MOVEMENT – MOdular VErsatile Mobility ENhancement Technology (FP6/IST): Aims at a modular robotic system for enhancing the mobility of disabled and old people. By using an autonomous mobile platform persons as well as objects including ICT equipment can be moved in a home or office environment.
• AAL – Ambient Assisted Living (FP6/SSA): Developing an Article 169 initiative for increasing the autonomy, independence and quality of life of old people by applying technology from the field of smart homes, ambient intelligence and ubiquitous computing.
• ENABLE - A wearable system supporting services to *enable* elderly people to live well, independently and at ease (FP6/IST): ENABLE aims at development of a wearable device with integrated services to support the independent living of old persons.
• LIVINGALL – Free Movements and Equal Living Opportunities for All (FP6-2005-SSP-5-A, March 2007- February 2009): The LIVINGALL project is aimed at increasing the free movement of people with disabilities and accessibility of all persons to the global European labour market.
• EASY ENTRANCE - easy entrance, for barrier-free access to the workplace (ESF, 2005-2007), Easy Entrance is a development partnership within the framework of the common initiative EQUAL of the EU. Important players of the labour market policy join together to find solutions for urgent problems on the labour market in an experimental way.
• INCLUSO (FP7-ICT) aims to deliver a verifiable proof that ICT, and more precisely, social software tools, can facilitate social inclusion of marginalized young people.
• ICT & Ageing – Users, Markets and Technologies. This study is funded by the European Commission. The aim is to identify existing market barriers that hinder uptake of technologies for independent living.

Some nationally funded projects:

• EASY ENTRANCE – Development of manual and semi-automatic tools for assessing the accessibility of work-places and large public areas. Core of the development was a wheelchair-based measuring platform for automatic recording the basic parameters relevant for accessibility just by driving the wheelchair through buildings or along passageways.
• Centres for Visually Impaired Students: Following a world-wide trend toward the integration of disabled students into mainstream academic education, fortec developed and realised a concept for technical support centres for visually impaired students. As a result of the project a permanent support centre was installed at the library of the Vienna University of Technology.
• Technologies Supporting the Independence of Motor- and Multiple Impaired Persons: Investigation of technologies supporting the independence and self-determination of motor and multiple impaired persons in the home-environment, starting with an investigation of user-needs and the state-of-the-art. The analysis led to an innovative concept, called the concept of the personal technical assistive system.
• AUTONOMY - an Assistive System for Everyday-Life: An innovative multifunctional technical assistive system was developed to support independence and self determination of motor- and multiple impaired persons in everyday life. The basic functions are: environmental control, alternative and augmentative communication, computer-access and security functions.
• Field Study Axams - Integration of Technical Assistance into the Rehabilitation Process - The aim of this study was to investigate the benefit and potential of the integration of flexible and versatile technical aids into the rehabilitation process. It took place at a support centre for motor- and multiple impaired persons and was carried out by an interdisciplinary team consisting of disabled end-users, pedagogics and occupational therapists (in the role of the facilitators) and technicians from the Vienna University of Technology.
• Close to the Body - The Ethics and Practice of Patient Clothing and Assistive Technology Design (funded by Academy of Finland).
• E-HOME - an assistive home system which can prolong the time of independent living for elderly people.
• Sparkling Fingers - A system for auditory support of haptic exploration for use in the education of blind and visually impaired pupils.
• MofA – Mobility for All: Investigates status and potential improvements of mobility in public areas

CVs of Key Persons

• Wolfgang L. Zagler, Professor, Head of fortec.
Wolfgang Zagler received his Diplomingenieur degree in Electrical Engineering in 1976 and the Doctor degree in 1989. In 1986 he established the Research Group for Rehabilitation Technology fortec which now is part of the Institute integrated study at Vienna University of Technology. After several projects in visual sensory substitution (reading machine for blind people, colour detection device, etc.) he expanded his activities to other fields of RT (systems for communication and environmental control, telecommunications for hearing and speech impaired persons, assistive systems for disabled children and older persons). He teaches Rehabilitation Engineering at the Vienna University of Technology and in summer courses. He is author or co-author of over hundred scientific publications in the field of assistive technology. Wolfgang Zagler as received several awards for innovations, e.g. Victor-Kaplan-Medal (1992), Dr-Elisabeth-Wundsam-Preis (2006) and the European ICT Grand Prize (2007).

• Christian Beck, Researcher
Christian Beck attended the TGM (a HTL) in Vienna for biomedical and communications engineering. He graduated from the Vienna University of Technology with a diploma degree in communications engineering with the area of specialization on biomedical engineering in 1997. Then he spent one year researching biomedical hardware at the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Physics (AKH-Vienna). He is an employee of fortec since 1998 and concentrates on computer access, adaptable user interfaces and on hardware development in the area of rehabilitation systems.

• Georg Edelmayer, Researcher
Georg Edelmayer visited the HTL Waidhofen/Ybbs for Electrical Engineering (college focusing on technical education). He graduated from the Graz University of Technology with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering (focusing electro- and biomedical engineering) in 1994. Since July 1995 he is an employee of fortec. He focuses on user interfaces, alarm systems, ambient assisted living and on human contacts between users and technicians.

• Peter Mayer, Researcher
Peter Mayer first visited the HTL Mödling for Electrical Engineering (college focusing on technical education). He graduated from the Vienna University of Technology with a diploma degree in Electrical Engineering in 1985. Since then he has been active in the area of rehabilitation engineering as a research assistant at the Vienna University of Technology. He concentrates on orientation and environmental control devices for the disabled, computer applications for handicapped persons, electronics and informatics to help disabled persons.

• Paul Panek, Researcher
Paul Panek studied communication engineering at Vienna University of Technology. Since 1993 he is working in the field of Rehabilitation Technology. His main areas of interest are man machine interface for multiple impaired persons, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) for profoundly and learning disabled children, environmental control systems (ECS), self adapting bath room systems for disabled and old persons and the application of telematics in the area of Assistive Technology. Since November 2006 he is part time employed at CEIT (www.ceit.at) participating in the planning and implementation of a Living Lab for old persons and assistive technologies.

• Marjo Rauhala PhD, Researcher
Marjo Rauhala is a social scientist and ethicist who specializes in ethical dimensions of assistive technology development and ethics of user involvement. An employee of fortec since 2004, Rauhala shapes the approach to ethics in fortecs projects and contributes to the development of practices of user involvement. In her research, she combines of methods of social scientific research and more traditional academic ethics. Rauhala has previously worked as an ethical peer reviewer (FP5, Quality of Life), and a researcher in assistive technology projects (FP 4, BIOMED2), and in national and EU information society projects. Since 2006 she is working part time at CEIT (www.ceit.at) focusing on establishing a living lab for technologies to support independent living of old persons.

• Gottfried Seisenbacher, Researcher
Gottfried Seisenbacher attended the HTL Waidhofen/Ybbs for Electrical Engineering (college focusing on technical education) and is currently studying Computer Science at the Vienna University of Technology. He is an employee of fortec since 1997 and concentrates on computer applications for handicapped persons with special interest in environmental control, computer access and adaptable user interfaces including text prediction systems.

K. Miesenberger, J. Klaus, W.L. Zagler, D. Burger (Hrg.):
Computers Helping People with Special Needs;
Proceedings of the 9th ICCHP, Springer, 2004, ISBN: 3-540-22334-7; 1190 S.

K. Miesenberger, J. Klaus, W.L. Zagler, A. Karshmer (Hrg.):
Computers Helping People with Special Needs;
Proceedings of the 10th ICCHP, Springer, 2006, ISBN: 3-540-36020-4.

M. Rauhala:
Ethics and Assistive Technology Design for Vulnerable Users: A Case Study;
Research Report, STAKES Helsinki, 2007, ISBN: 978-951-33-1989-2; 146 S.

G. Edelmayer, P. Panek, P. Mayer, W.L. Zagler:
Technologies for Smart Toilets;
mstnews international newsletter on micro-nano integration (eingeladen), 5 (2005), October; S. 14 - 15.

M. Fuhrmann-Ehn:
Notwendige Mindeststandards - Barrierefrei Studieren;
in: Mensch, kennst Du Deine Rechte, herausgegeben von: Österreichische Hochschülerschaft; OEH, Wien, 2008, S. 46 - 51.

M. Rauhala, G. Edelmayer, P. Topo, W.L. Zagler:
Ethics and Assistive Technology Development - Project Workers Experiences with Continuous Ethical Review;
Vortrag: AAATE 07 9th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe, San Sebastian, Spain; 03.10.2007 - 05.10.2007; in: Challenges for Assistive Technology, proc of the 9th Europ Conf for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE), IOS Press, Volume 20 (2007), ISBN: 978-1-58603-791-8; S. 610 - 614.

M. Rauhala, I. Wagner:
Ethical Review - A Continuous Process in an Assistive Technology Project;
Vortrag: AAATE 2005 8th European conference for the advancement of assistive technology in europe, Lille, France; 06.09.2005 - 09.09.2005; in: Assistive technology: from virtuality to reality, IOS Press, 16 (2005), ISBN: 1-58603-543-6; S. 31 - 35.

C. Beck, G. Seisenbacher, G. Edelmayer, W.L. Zagler:
EMU - A European Multilingual Text Prediction Software;
Vortrag: ICCHP 2006 10th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, Linz; 11.07.2006 - 13.07.2006; in: Computers Helping People with Special Needs; Proceedings of the ICCHP 2006, Springer, (2006), ISBN: 3-540-36020-4; S. 886 - 893.

P. Panek:
Design for Intimate Needs: Ambient Intelligence in a Rest Room;
in: Design and Dementia, herausgegeben von: Päivi Topo, Britt Östlund; IOS Press, 2009, (eingeladen).

P. Panek, N. Alm, G. Edelmayer, J. Liaskos, C. Magnusson, P. Mayer, H. Neveryd, A. Svensk, W.L. Zagler:
User Interface and Control Software of an Intelligent Assistive Toilet System for All Citizens;
Vortrag: Include 2005, International conference on inclusive design, Royal College of Art, London, UK; 05.04.2005 - 08.04.2005; in: Proceedings of the Include conference 2005, (2005), ISBN: 1-905000-10-3; 11 S.

G. Seisenbacher, P. Mayer, P. Panek, W.L. Zagler:
3D-Finger - System for Auditory Support of Haptic Exploration in the Education of Blind and Visually Impaired Students - Idea and Feasibility Study;
Vortrag: AAATE 2005 8th European conference for the advancement of assistive technology in europe, Lille, France; 06.09.2005 - 09.09.2005; in: Assistive technology from virtuality to reality, IOS Press, 16 (2005), ISBN: 1-58603-543-6; S. 73 - 77.

C. Dayé, C. Fleck, A. de Campo, C. Frauenberger, G. Edelmayer, P. Mayer, P. Panek, M. Egger de Campo:
Sonification as a Tool to Reconstruct Users Actions in Unobservable Areas;
Poster: ICAD 05 - Eleventh Meeting of the International Conference on Auditory Display, Limerick, Ireland; 06.07.2005 - 09.07.2005; in: Proceedings of the ICAD 05, (2005), ISBN: 1-874653-81x; 4 S.

G. Edelmayer, P. Mayer:
User Interface for a Mobility Enhancement System;
Vortrag: ESBME 2008 6th European Symposium on Biomedical Engineering, Chania; 19.06.2008 - 21.06.2008; in: Proceedings of the ESBME, (2008).

 Inserted / Updated
2004-11-16 / 2012-03-20