The challenges of the modern world are becoming more and more complex and humans need ever better support from computers in order to be able to deal with the abundance of information. Artificial intelligence or machine learning on the one hand and interdisciplinary collaboration on the other hand are becoming increasingly important. The Institute for Information Systems at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iisys) is taking these developments into account by founding an AI user center that will also benefit companies in the future. Institute director Prof. Dr. René Peinl explains what this is all about:
Prof. Dr. Peinl, how did you come up with the idea of the new AI user center?
Like all institutes at our university, the Institute for Information Systems (iisys) regularly reviews its strategic positioning and tries to keep the benefits for the region as high as possible for the future. We see the new AI User Center as a platform for interdisciplinary cooperation beyond research groups, research institutes and the university. External partners should also benefit from the outcome of the collaboration, especially small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have AI implementation capacities on their own.
How exactly will the collaboration work?
For the AI user center, research groups with a stronger computer science focus will provide a hardware and software platform as well as know-how on technical aspects of machine learning. This will enable research groups with a stronger application focus, as well as companies in the region, to evaluate machine learning techniques for their application areas. In addition, they can use it – based on existing models – to train their own solutions. In other words, we benefit from each other. I think this is a highly interesting offer, especially for companies in the region, and it helps to reduce dependence on global companies.
Can you give a practical application example for this? What is conceivable here, for example?
First of all, both sides win: Users and technicians. The users benefit from the technical know-how provided and the pre-trained models, which they can use immediately or specialize to their own needs. The technicians, in turn, benefit from the knowledge of the applicability of their methods in new fields of application and the development of additional data for the training of their models. A win-win situation.
Let me give an example: Let’s assume a company wants to use voice assistants to improve internal logistics – it is possible, for example, to read out the next orders to forklift drivers via speech synthesis or to give feedback on completed orders via voice input. The company thus benefits from the trained speech recognition and speech synthesis models of the Hof University of Applied Sciences. It can quickly find out whether the quality is sufficient for their individual use case. Data then accumulates in practice, which in turn can be used to further train the speech recognition systems and make them less susceptible to noise, for example. The researchers identify existing deficits in the solution and can work on integrating noise filters, for example, which will then also enable better results in other projects.
Who will oversee the AI user center in the future, where do the threads come together?
At the beginning, the research groups of Professors Göbel (mobility), Scheidt (eHealth) and Peinl (speech assistance) will be active in the technology area, as well as Prof. Weber at the interface of law and IT. The competence is extended by experts from the Faculty of Computer Science, who currently do not lead their own research group. These are the colleagues Leuoth, Groth and Spangenberg.
And in the user area itself…?
The research groups of Professors Wolff, Wengler and Riedel are active in the user area. Professors Wagener and Zöllner, as well as colleague Markus, have already expressed their intention to participate in the AI User Center as part of their research activities.
Can other researchers also join?
Of course. Other researchers are welcome to join the KI User Center. The cooperation between the researchers in the user area, technology area, as well as across areas ensures the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary exchange of knowledge, so that procedures that work well in one application can also be tested for other applications, as well as technological problems, e.g. in the stabilization of training progress, can be solved effectively together.