Founded By: European Union – Digital Europe Programme – European Digital Innovation Hubs (DIGITAL-2021-EDIH-01)

Start date: 1 Sep. 2022          End date: 31 Aug. 2025

Grant: € 109.866.032

Partners: Human Inspired Technology (University of Padova), Universiy of Verona, University Ca’ Foscari of Venezia, University IUAV of Venezia, University of Trento,  Libera Università of Bolzano, Università of Udine, Università of Trieste, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Autorità di Sistema Portuale Adriatico Orientale, CORILA – Consorzio per il coordinamento delle ricerche inerenti al sistema lagunare di Venezia, Covision Lab, CRESME Ricerche, EURAC Research, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Fondazione Ca’ Foscari, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Fondazione Hub Innovazione Trentino, Friuli Innovazione, Polo Tecnologico Alto Adriatico Andrea Galvani, SMACT scpa, T2i-trasferimento tecnologico e innovazione.

HTLab Involved People: Luciano Gamberini, Valeria Orso, Federica Nenna, Davide Zanardi, Leonardo Pierobon

The main focus of the iNEST ecosystem falls within the scope of the “Digital, Industry, Aerospace” area of the National Research Plan (PNR), aiming to bring the benefits of digital technologies to key areas in the Italian North-East region. The overall objective is to rapidly enhance and extend the benefits of digital technologies to key specialized areas in the Italian North-East territory (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, and the two Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano), including industrial-manufacturing sectors, agriculture, maritime activities, mountain-related industries, construction, tourism, culture, health, and food. The Research and Innovation Program is structured with 1 HUB and 9 Spokes, involving the main universities and research organizations in the region. More specifically, the HTlab team actively contributes to several research topics of the Spoke 4 (City, Architecture and Sustainable Design), and of the Spoke 5 (Smart and Sustainable Environments).

Within the Spoke 4, our primary objective is to promote the design of innovative hybrid living environments that integrate new Extended Reality (XR) technologies, with a human-centric approach. XR technologies have the potential to expand the boundaries of our physical surroundings, adding a new layer of interaction between people. This hybridization of environments involves the fusion of physical and virtual realms, where the interaction with a virtual component impacts the physical world and vice versa, making it possible to design socially inclusive, sustainable, and accessible spaces. Technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) offer new ways to provide information and create new experiences for visitors to cultural and artistic heritage sites. However, to date they are mainly applied to enhance the outdoor experience of existing cultural heritage sites. Our goal is to enrich bare spaces by adding artistic, cultural, and environmental elements in different living environments where these features are not already available. Therefore, the first objective is to understand how XR technologies influence and shape user behaviour and interactions between users, and to identify the most relevant case studies.

Moreover, our secondary objective is to investigate the most appropriate modes of presence interaction in different living environments through the co-located use of Extended Reality. To accomplish this, our research focuses on the investigation of the features of hybrid environments most related to inclusiveness, social interaction, sustainability, technology acceptance, social acceptability, perceived well-being, and awe experience.

As regards the Spoke 5, the research activities carried out by the HTlab team involve different living environments, including working and manufacturing, learning, and home environments. By following the transition from the so-called 4.0 revolution to the new 5.0 paradigm, aspects of sustainability, quality of life, inclusion and psychological well-being are always taken into account as indispensable outcomes. More specifically, for the working environment, we investigate how working with a collaborative robotic arm and/or a human peer affects the employee’s psychophysiological, affective and behavioral state. Furthermore, we work on the hybridization (physical-digital) and remotization of work environments by using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. By undertaking a human-centric perspective, and combining participatory design techniques, interviews, self-reports, behavioral and physiological assessments in the field and in the lab, we aim at a wide and comprehensive evaluation of the user’s behaviors, intentions and mental states when working jointly with collaborative robotic systems, both in the physical environment and in virtual worlds. For the learning environment, instead, the focus is on digital inclusion, ICT integration, and environmental influences on both teachers’ and students’ cognitive efforts in Paduan primary and middle schools, also with an emphasis on disadvantaged pupils (e.g., with disabilities, or learning disorders). This contributes to addressing the challenges of integrating new ICT in schools while expanding the understanding of environmental factors impacting education.

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