A compass for daily life: The Digital Flatmate

The “Kompass” project, which began in 2015 and runs until 2018, develops socially cooperative digital assistants to support persons with special needs, guiding them through their daily lives.

Not only should the assistants organise appointments, but also help prevent the user from social isolation. They can support the user in keeping in touch with other people through video calls or remind the user to contact friends or relations. 

The main aim is that the virtual assistant should recognise changes in the user’s state of mind at an early stage and respond with sensitivity – whether it is confusion, lack of understanding, or scepticism. The appearance of the avatar can be changed in age or gender, to suit the user’s wishes.

CITEC and Bethel are cooperating with the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences on the project.  The researchers are also addressing ethical and legal questions: To what extent can digital assistants intervene without patronising the user? What data should they be allowed to record? What questions of legal liability are present?