Experts Introduce KogniHome in a New Video

Video on the smart apartment also to be screened at Bethel exhibition

What will the technology of 2024 look like? A new video on the smart apartment KogniHome provides a glimpse into the future. The film is being shown at the exhibition “Technology Makes Life Easier” held at the Bethel Historical Collection. To mark the 120-year anniversary of the Gebäudetechnik Bethel (utilities company), the exhibition displays past uses of technology at the v. Bodelschwinghian Foundations of Bethel, and with KogniHome, also the future. The exhibition was also open on 30 April during Bielefeld “Night Sights,” an event in which museums and other cultural institutions are open late to the public.  

In a new video, Professor Dr. Helge Ritter explains the functionality of KogniHome, the smart apartment. Photo: Bielefeld University/CITEC. “We do not want the apartment to offer support and assistance following strict patterns,” says Professor Dr. Helge Ritter, speaker of the Cluster of Innovation KogniHome. “The goal for us is much more about getting the apartment to individually adapt to the residents, and giving the apartment abilities of perception. By recognizing, for instance, who is standing in front of it, the apartment can make customized suggestions and offer functionalities based on the individual needs of the children and adults living there.” To accomplish this vision, the 14 KogniHome partners are developing intelligent kitchen appliances, a smart entrance area, and a personal health trainer.

“All people, including those with disabilities, should be able to freely choose where, and with whom, they live,” says Professor Dr. Günther Wienberg, managing director of the Teilanstalt Bethel. “The vast majority of handicapped people and senior citizens want to live in their own apartment for as long as possible.” The technologies provided by KogniHome can make this a reality for such individuals.

CITEC researchers are experts in the area of assistive technologies. “The apartment must combine a spectrum of capabilities, ranging from an understanding of its residents, networking, and technical infrastructure, to capabilities like security functions and thinking ahead,” explains Ritter. “All of this can only be accomplished by working together with many partners who have proven expertise in these individual areas.” The 14 partners from academia and industry, as well as social services and healthcare, all come from the region of Ostwestfalen-Lippe.

A unique feature of the Cluster of Innovation KogniHome is that while researchers are still in the development stage, they can already question various study participants. Accordingly, researchers receive feedback from potential KogniHome residents on user friendliness, accessibility, and social participation. In addition to this, the project partners are working on the ethical, legal, and social issues, as well as the technical safety aspects. “Just how safe are these systems? What happens if they do not work? Who is then legally responsible? And what about data privacy protection? Do these technologies really enhance the quality of life of their users, or do they just lead to cost reductions or technical optimizations?” asks Günther Wienberg. Together, the KogniHome consortium is working to clarify these issues with the KogniHome project ELSI, which stands for “Ethical, Legal, Social and Safety Implications.“

The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) and the v. Bodelschwinghian Foundations of Bethel have been working as strategic partners since 2011. Together, they are researching assistive systems, particularly for senior citizens and people with cognitive limitations. Since 2008, they have launched a total of 10 projects, including a virtual domestic assistant to provide support in daily activities, and a pair of virtual reality glasses that help with everyday tasks, like baking or making coffee.

In their strategic partnership, CITEC and Bethel are focusing on target groups that are often neglected by industry, and want to provide affordable technical solutions to these social groups. CITEC and Bethel are working together to use the opportunities provided by technology and find early solutions for possible difficulties that come with using the technologies. The following principle always applies: technical assistance should not replace communication and interpersonal contact, but enhance it.  

In the exhibition “Technology Makes Life Easier: The Role of Technology in the History of the Bethel Foundations,” various inventions are on display that the Bethel leader Friedrich v. Bodelschwingh brought to Bethel early on in its history. The technology enthusiastic v. Bodelschwingh made sure that all new technical innovations at the end of the nineteenth century were put into operation at Bethel. Bethel’s electrical supply station, the predecessor of todays’ Gebäudetechnik Bethel (utility company), for instance, used a steam engine to produce electricity and steam not only for Bethel’s use, but also to sell to other companies. At Bethel, the telephone had already improved internal communication by the end of the nineteenth century, electrical light illuminated buildings, the automobile transformed transportation in 1910, and the gramophone provided people with entertainment.

At this exhibition, visitors can also learn about v. Bodelschwingh’s work on designing zeppelins, or Bethel’s history as a mass producer of brick. Old household appliances and other historical tools demonstrate how people at Bethel tried to make their lives easier. These tools are also available for visitors to try for themselves.

The exhibition is being held at the Bethel Historical Collection, located at Kantensiek 9, in Bielefeld, 33617.

For more information, please see this video on KogniHome, the smart apartment. CITEC and the v. Bodelschwinghian Foundations of Bethel are working with 12 regional partners to enable people to lead self-determined lives.


Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: +49 521 106-12123

Bärbel Bitter, Bethel Historical Collection
v. Bodelschwinghian Foundations of Bethel
Kantensiek 9, 33617 Bielefeld
Telephone: +49 521 144 - 2024

Opening Hours of the Bethel Exhibition:

17 April – 29 May 2016
Sunday through Thursday, 15:00–18:00

31 May – 22 September 2016
Tuesday through Thursday, 15:00–17:00 and by appointment