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Institute for the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains

Digital and physical borders are blurred in the Internet of Things (IoT) as the real and virtual worlds are interlaced. This development of intelligent environments and interacting objects brings increased convenience as well as business potential, especially in the areas of automation, logistics, mobility, aging population, environment and energy. Future integrated solutions like Smart Energy, Smart Mobility, Smart Living or Smart Health all require intelligence. This intelligence is mostly based on highly integrated embedded systems. Together with sensors and actuators they build up to Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) which represent the connector between the virtual and physical world. Real world data is captured, digitally processed and potentially further processed in central IT service systems. There is a risk that the human users cannot properly assess the virtual world processes and as a result interact in an either too open or too defensive manner. Solutions need to be targeted for the human users to address their heterogeneity, including 'digital natives', people with migration background or with handicaps for example. The user interfaces need to be designed to be appropriate for all users. The development approach must be based on active design participation by associate co-producers.


The Institute for the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains (IDiAL) addresses the challenges of digitalisation in the next years, focusing on the following current key topics and lead markets, which happen to also match society's big challenges.

Key Topic 1: Social Cohesion, Health and Wellbeing Through Participative Development of Social Platforms and Assistance Systems

Solutions to meet the challenges of demographic change demand integrated technical contributions from software and system technology to provide digital offerings from social platforms to assistance systems. Social platforms that support diverse user specific networking of all relevant participants are fundamental for participative processes and innovative services. Implemented as an open source tool kit, it allows sustainable development and integration. The aim is to find adequate solutions for an open group of users with wide divergence in terms of education, affordability, migration history, mobility, technical affinity, cognitive and motor abilities and other dimensions. A new participative process is required that does not abtract the given challenges of this wide diversification. Project QuartiersNETZ clarifies this approach. Start-up covibo is planning the marketing of solutions.

Key topic 2: Modern interlinked production and logistics systems by complete IT permeation, Industrie 4.0

Networking of living and working environments, as well as development of self supporting (and so sustainable) business models, require new IT approaches. Alongside the development of robotics (autonomous human robot interaction), sensor and actuator technologies (CPS, CPPS) and cloud applications (M2M solutions, interaction with mobile devices), the aim is also in standardisation and tools that enable easy entry to digitalisation, especially for SMEs. Solutions from M2M and CPC/CPPS additionally allow the intelligent interlinking of supply and disposal systems with energy system components.

Key topic 3: Sustainable mobility by excellent development methods and processes and tool in Embedded Systems/Embedded Software

In the context of metropolitan agglomerations like the Ruhr area and finite resources, mobility is increasingly challenging. The vehicle as a software defined product and part of a networked world is profoundly altering traffic with respect to efficiency, safety and environmental protection. Increasing urbanisatio demands intelligent traffic infrastructures, where for example the vehicle communicates with the road. Focus topics are tools and processes (model driven methods), as well as automotive software solutions with application in HMI (interaction), driver assistance, and e-mobility. In the Eureka/ITEA2 projects AMALTHEA and AMALTHEA4public an open source tool chain is being developed for this, globally available as an Eclipse subproject. Work in the area of product data and variant management are a further focus (in the BMBF project ILogTec). Associated microelectronics is being developed in the ChipLab. Innovation and project management in the European technology field is allocated to the DAAD project EuroPIM.


Based on current projects, existing expertise and networks IDiAL is concentrating on the following application domains:

  • Health and Demographic Change
  • Logistics and Robotics
  • Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Energy
  • Mobility and Infrastructure
  • Process and Tool Development

IDiAL currently employs more than 40 staff members on research projects, who are mostly located at Otto-Hahn-Str. 23 in order to facilitate information exchange and cooperation across the projects. The research associates include 19 PhD students in cooperative doctoral studies with partner universities and are partially funded by the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts' doctoral college. IDiAL can rely on a strong network of universities supporting this work. The partners in this case include the TU Dortmund, the Hagen University, and the universities of Bielefeld, Kassel and Paderborn.

In addition to the education within research and final year projects IDiAL is also involved in the teaching side, partly through the English language Masters degree 'Embedded Systems for Mechatronics' that emerged from this research group.

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