Director: Nuno Nunes
- Description of the Research Group +
The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) is a non-profit innovation institute of the University of Madeira, the youngest and smallest public university in Portugal. It is located in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, an outermost region of Europe. M-ITI was conceived in 2000, formally integrated as a research group in 2007, and established as an Innovation Institute in 2010. M-ITI has also been a member of the National Associated Laboratory for Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science (LARSyS) since 2011.
M-ITI operates in the interdisciplinary domain of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), encapsulating contributions from the disciplines of computer science, psychology and social sciences, and design, with the goal of engaging in important scientific and technological challenges. ICT solutions for the aging population, sustainability in smart cities and digital culture, are three such challenges that bear increasingly significant societal and economic impacts.
M-ITI's vision is to become an influential and internationally recognized centre for research and education in HCI, wherein M-ITI will serve as an "innovation engine" for driving leading-edge research and advancing the strategic development of the University and region of Madeira. We seek to do this through achievement of the following goals:
Develop capacity in a sustainable setting that welcomes interdisciplinary research and innovation in interactive systems and services through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Advance education in the fields of HCI and computer science through international multidisciplinary graduate programs, in which fields new leaders and pioneers will be formed.
Explore and expand the potential of technology to enhance human interaction by designing and developing novel systems and services and by investigating their use and effectiveness in real-world contexts.
Bridge the gaps between the application domains of software engineering, interaction design, and service design by developing practical tools, techniques, theory and practices centred on meeting genuine human needs.
A key factor in the development of M-ITI is its long-standing partnership with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) under the Carnegie Mellon | Portugal International Partnership.
The internal organization of M-ITI is made up of the following five entities: general assembly, Board of Directors (BoD), fiscal council, scientific council and advisory council. The general assembly approves the budget and the annual activity report of M-ITI upon statement from the fiscal council. The BoD is responsible for all executive actions of M-ITI, including the budget, activity plan and management of human, physical and financial resources. The scientific council is composed of all senior researchers and other researchers holding a doctoral degree and defines the overall scientific strategy of the institute, and assists the BoD in all decisions that impact the pedagogical and scientific activities. The advisory council is composed of a number of external international scientific experts and serves in offering recommendations on M-ITI's scientific strategy.
M-ITI currently incorporates 30 faculty members, including 20 full-time core faculty, two institute fellows, four post-doctorate researchers and nine collaborators. The total number of students is 175, including 150 master students and 25 PhD students. Forty of the master students are engaged in dual-degree programs with Carnegie Mellon University. The Institute carries out research projects through competitive programs funded by the European Union FP7, the FCT, and industry collaborations. M-ITI has been rated as 'excellent' in a series of national reviews, including those conducted by the Carnegie Mellon | Portugal International Partnership program and an independent review by the FCT.
- Main achievements +
M-ITI's research culture is focused on interdisciplinary work with the potential for real world impact embracing new areas where our base expertise in technology and infrastructure is used to tackle important real-world problems. Taking advantage of the rigidity and lack of critical mass in Portuguese academia we have been successful in creating a true international and interdisciplinary institute in HCI. Many of the accomplished achievements were conducted in a very short period of time due to the Carnegie Mellon | Portugal International partnership. These have been recognized by several independent evaluation committees, in particular the External Review Committee of the programme "(...)We were pleased to see that the new Institute in Madeira relating to Human Computer Interaction (HCI), proposed last year, has now been established. This we consider an imaginative and important development of considerable potential benefit, catalyzed by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal programme.(...) we are of the view that the team has the potential to establish a world class research Centre, one distinctive internationally and we believe unparalleled in Europe". M-ITI's achievements were further recognized in the external evaluation conducted by the FCT composed of two top HCI senior HCI researchers: "I find the idea, vision and purpose of the M-ITI to be well developed and situated in the international research field of HCI. I find the people and the ongoing research to be excellent, and I believe the institute will be able to establish itself as one of the top international research centers in the field. Overall I judge the M-ITI to be an excellent research unit".
This international recognition is sustained in concrete achievements, starting from the fact that M-ITI is the only research center in Portugal to have an ACM Fellow among its staff members (Larry Constantine, also a Stevens Award recipient and pioneer of software engineering) and that several of the young researchers have won international awards (IBM, Microsoft, Fraunhofer) and are actively involved in the organizing committees of many top HCI international conferences (CHI, Interact, TEI, Ubicomp, EHCI, ECCE, etc. - some of them organized in Madeira). M-ITI's also holds an impressive publication record in a number of high-impact international, peer-reviewed journals and conferences in the field. The main ACM SIGCHI sponsored venues have acceptance rates around 20% and high impact h-rankings. In several of these highly competitive venues M-ITI's presence is competing with some of the top world institutions like Microsoft Research, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Newcastle.
M-ITI is one of the few research centers in Portugal to achieve a high level of internationalization: 80% of its core faculty are international, while two-thirds of M-ITI's master students and one-third of its PhD students also come from outside of Portugal. This level of internationalization is present in the placement of our graduates, ranging from Apple and Google to Microsoft Redmond, Washington), IBM, Hewlett-Packard, CGI, VMWare, and many other high-profile multinational placements. The alumni from M-ITI have also had a strong impact on national and regional companies from established ICT and telecommunications companies, such as Portugal Telecom, Zon Multimedia, Novabase and Logica, to regional startups and spin-offs from M-ITI, such as Wow Systems and Mambu that secured 2M¤ of investor funding to develop micro-credit cloud based services.
Recently M-ITI won the FP7 call for the ERAChairs pilot Horizon 2020 program which involves funding of 2,35M¤ to attract faculty and setup labs and other support resources to develop the level of excellence required to successfully compete internationally and effectively widen participation in the ERA. The proposal was ranked in the top 5 of European convergence regions.
- Structure of the Research Group +
Advances in ICT have fundamentally changed the way people work and live across the globe, a trend that is accelerating as the influence and impact of ICTs spread to ever greater scopes of activity. Computing has moved beyond merely increasing productivity at work to providing individuals with unprecedented access to information and powerful new ways to communicate. In the decades since the computer became personal, the relevance and scope of the field of HCI has grown in tandem with computing technology. Research in ICT no longer asks "what can we build?" but instead "what should we build?" HCI researchers and practitioners, with their focus on user needs, tasks and experiences are well suited to address these new kinds of questions.
HCI is the discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. M-ITI rests on the following principles:
- Objectives of the Research Group +
M-ITI generates a unique combination of strong research and innovation potential enabling interdisciplinary work among scientists and engineers in examining and communicating the impact of emerging technologies in key areas of contemporary life. Leveraging on design innovation, M-ITI is well positioned to generate informed speculations on the products, systems and services these emerging technologies might support. These speculations function as tangible and accessible demonstrations that can be used to examine how contemporary scientific research could transform our lives in the near as well as distant futures. The potential of HCI to reshape the current interdisciplinary research landscape lies in a novel relationship between science and design used to support interdisciplinary work and foster dialogue with the population of users.
We have identified three strategic application domains as key areas to be pursued:, Assistive technologies for Aging Population - One of the most promising application areas for ICT involves assistance to aging populations, social inclusion, and the prevention, diagnosis and management of medical conditions. ICT solutions prolonging independent living, extending active working life and enabling accessibility for people with disabilities is one of the primary challenges for the ERA. At M-ITI, we are exploring the combination of these fields in the domain of monitoring and rehabilitation technologies for patients with motor, cognitive and perceptual deficits. Mental illness is another key focus area for which M-ITI is exploring interactive technologies to enhance neuro and biofeedback in therapy. Madeira has a large elderly population, as it is attracts many retirees and elderly travellers. Madeira also has one of the highest stroke incidence rates in Europe. Therefore, it provides an ideal setting for the large-scale deployment and testing of assistive technologies for the elderly. Creative Media in Digital Culture - The role of technology is ever expanding, making it essential that we apply it in ways that enhance our daily lives, our creativity, and our ability to connect with one another. We are actively engaged in the design and development of technologies that serve education, culture and new creative industries, particularly as these relate to M-ITI's core research areas. In addition to enhancing use value from digital artefacts and making them more accessible, M-ITI is dedicated to the use of digital technologies for uncovering hidden potential and investigating complex problems, such as the design of sustainable entertainment for Madeira and its tourism industry, the collection and delivery of the island's traditional culture through digital and interactive media, and the introduction and integration of digital learning tools into kindergartens and primary schools., Sustainability for Smartcities - ICT for sustainable development is one of the four flagship i2010 initiatives of the EC, underlining the potential of ICTs to improve quality of life. Although sustainability is often discussed in terms of political and engineering challenges, the HCI community embodies knowledge and expertise that will be crucial to addressing the design, interaction, and usage issues surrounding sustainable technologies and practice, in particular their positive impact on future generations. M-ITI is exploring this domain through the development of resource monitoring solutions, the design of novel sustainable services and the use of eco-feedback technology to reduce and motivate sustainable behavior. In the urban age economic prosperity and quality of life depends on the potential to support both complex underlying infrastructures and rich interactions between humans and the surrounding environment. Madeira provides a unique environment for test beds reconciling humans and technology in the urban age where people can exploit their creative potential and lead a self-determined life.