Interactive Technologies Institute (ITI) is a not for profit innovation institute of the University of Madeira, the youngest and smallest public university of Portugal. It is located in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, an outermost region of Europe.
ITI was conceived in 2000, formally integrated as a research group in 2007, and established as an Innovation Institute in 2010. ITI has also been a member of the National Associated Laboratory for Robotics and Systems in Engineering (LARSyS) since 2011. In 2015, M-ITI was considered a Public Utility Institute (as published in the Jornal Oficial of 19 February 2015, series number 30).
ITI operates in the interdisciplinary domain of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), encapsulating contributions from the disciplines of computer science, psychology, social sciences and design, with the goal of engaging in important scientific and technological challenges.
A center of design for global change, creating socio-technical systems suited to holistic challenges.
Global changes – in climate or demographics; labor systems or capital flows; sustainable resource management or energy efficiency; memes or pandemics – are happening at a pace that could not have been anticipated a few decades ago. Our planet’s newest mass extinction is being ushered in by the very same technologies and means of production that were the crowning accomplishments and best practices of our grandparents. It is clear that many of our approaches must change swiftly and radically. Yet our habits of thinking, organizing, and living are largely configured to address the challenges and goals of prior epochs, and most of our tools still reflect and support those old habits. Our current technologies and material culture impede rather than enable our ability to live appropriately. We must mindfully design new materialities that foster inclusive, innovative, and reflective societies in a changing world.
ITI aims to step into the new millennium by developing tools, systems, and techniques better suited to address its challenges. In particular: the distribution and use of natural resources, the societal and personal use of energy, global inequality of resources and opportunities, and the relationship of production and consumption all require serious reform. Reducing inequalities and social exclusion in Europe, overcoming economic and financial crises, and tackling unemployment require new ideas, strategies, and governance structures that bring opportunities to the young and creative generations and leverage the reflective European society to position Europe as a global actor.
The long-term vision of ITI is an excellence center of design for global change, aimed at identifying fresh approaches to the design of new technologies, new means of production, and new political configurations that are better suited to the global challenges of this century. Some of these challenges might be unique to Europe but others are shared by communities around the world. By projecting ITI into the future of challenge-based research we envision exploring, designing for, and at times even anticipating global critical situations and opportunities for change. Strategically placed at the intersection of the American, European and African sides of the Atlantic, ITI is poised to play a crucial role in connecting, exchanging, and contributing to the innovation across the continents with which Portugal enjoys a strong relationship. As a multi-disciplinary center combining natural and social scientists, engineers, humanists, designers, and artists, its output will be focused on the area of applied science and human-centered technology. We will develop and share methods, working proofs, and “spin-off enterprises” focused on rebalancing the relationship of people and environment, production and consumption, the local and the global.
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. ITI rests on the following principles:
To achieve this goal, we need to:
i) understand human behaviour and development through social and ethical analyses based on empirical studies of how people adapt and use technology;
ii) develop technology, tools and design methods that support efficiency and creativity in design; and
iii) adopt a risk-taking attitude based on creative ideas for new ways of envisioning interactive technologies and services that have an impact in the world;
Attempts to reach this goal will lead to general theories and methods that enhance and broaden the field.
ITI will serve as a hub for a global network to ideate, co-create, test, and document new forms of local/global production for global challenges.
The goal of these efforts is not just the generation of new understanding of problem solving in an era of cheap information, but also tangible proofs of organisation through the creation of enterprises that embody and engage in that problem solving.
Our research will result in human/animal/technical networked systems that are both research platforms and, more importantly, working examples of global coordination and problem solving.
ITI’s research focus will be on developing techniques and technologies that:
Invent new design techniques to best respond to, or shepherd, complex and interrelated natural, social, and cultural global issues – that could help repositioning Europe in a changing world through new ideas, strategies and governance structures that integrate and inspire the younger and more creative generations leveraging Europe’s cultural heritage to build a more inclusive, innovative and reflexive society;