VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland recently coordinated a pan-European
initiative called SMARCOS, which focused on developing technology based on
internet sharing between devices. The technology allows the interfaces of
various smart devices to follow consumers’ actions and react immediately to
their needs. The smart coaching service, for example, can use all the user’s
digital devices for motivating his/her behaviour towards the goals or for
The pan-European SMARCOS (Smart Composite Human–Computer Interfaces)
initiative focused on developing technology based on internet sharing between
devices, which allows the interfaces and attributes of various digital devices
to work seamlessly together in smart ecosystems.
What is unique about the technology is the way it makes use of information on
the actions and processes of several people in a single situation to guide the
operation and functions of device interfaces.
The physical interface stays the same, but the intelligence and functionality
of the user interface level improve. The functions of an interface respond
more accurately to users’ needs when devices, services and applications are
able to follow and predict the users’ actions. This can be used, for example,
motivate healthy living through all personal devices.
Interfaces can be distributed among devices and surfaces and therefore help
users to be supported better by their digital services and applications.
Examples of systems that have already been implemented successfully include a
service that encourages consumers to lead healthier lifestyles.
The healthy living service operates on all the user’s digital devices (mobile
devices, TVs, car, computers, activity monitors). A real-time behaviour
monitoring service controls when and through which device the user can be
given information, reminders and encouragement. The service interacts with
systems that encourage consumers to exercise, remind them to take their
medication and help them to educate themselves.
The technologies developed during the initiative included multi-device
interface technology, as well as real-time consumer behaviour interpretation
technology. Several new tools and software applications were also developed
for use in building smart, roaming interfaces. This makes it possible to use
IoT (Internet of Things) devices as interfaces for connecting to cloud
services. The initiative also laid down the groundwork for integrating
physical products and cloud services and creating new business opportunities.
A minimalist interface prototype for controlling household energy consumption
was developed in collaboration with Offcode Oy. The user-friendly prototype
can be used to control household energy consumption and to buy and sell
These kinds of interfaces are likely to be available for consumers before the
end of the year.
A lot of work is being done to develop technology that will enable the
interoperability of devices in smart ecosystems (ubiquitous interoperability).
Most devices we use on a daily basis, such as some mobile phones, tablets,
laptops, household appliances and in-car information systems and satellite
navigation systems, will ultimately run on the same interface software. The
interoperability of these devices will improve user experience considerably.
In addition to VTT, other Finnish SMARCOS partners included Valve, IXONOS,
Offcode, Nemein and Nokia. Foreign partners included Barco (BE), SIRRIS (BE),
Human Interface Group (BE), Philips (NL), TP-Vision (NL), University of Twente
(NL), EVALAN (NL), Phi-I (NL), Indra Sistemas (ES), ESI (ES), Honeywell (CZ),
Fjord (UK), Intecs (IT) and CNR (IT). The project budget was approximately EUR
14.2 million, and financed by the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and local public