Dem, 'Deus ex Machina'

When thought of at a distance, many of today’s societal challenges stem from waste, inadequate use of resources, lack of integrated solutions and effort replication. In addition already until 2030 the population of the world will likely grow to an amount of 8.5bn people (+1.2bn vs. 2015), rising to 9.7bn in 2050 and 11.2bn in 2100 according to the actual United Nations predictions1. All of this is leading not only to citizens being unable to maintain their living standards, but most importantly, to what some academics call defuturing. Facing this challenge, societies demand more from less for more, seemingly unsolvable, but which appears to be the point in ancient Greek drama, when such an impenetrable problem is suddenly disentangled by a new element coming onto the play: the ‘Deus ex Machina’.

Figure 1. Interaction of DEM with Society and Economy


Societies are striving for these new elements towards efficiency gains mediated by a symbiotic relationship of humans with technology. We need elements such as these, which are able to deal with complex problems and, at the same time, be transparent to the users, as ‘companions’ who assist in difficult, unknown or just prosaic tasks.

We have devised a robust proposal to begin tackling these challenges in specific target domains. It consists of two research lines, being one built on top of the other. The first one will research and create building blocks, from tangible to intangible elements, while the second will put these building blocks at the service of pressing societal needs in European and African countries.

EITCC, 'Eyes of the Internet of Things' Competence Center

This research line will concentrate on understanding the environment, the user, their context and actions, with the purpose to provide building blocks to all target domains in the other research line (C3). 
Four layers build the EITCC:

  • 1. Sensing and actuating

    Bringing novel sensing mechanisms and actuation by accessing existing devices and developing new IoT sensing sources.
  • 2. Local information fusion

    Research on data aggregation algorithms to create refined and contextual information obtained in multiple local sensing devices.
  • 3. Remote information fusion and big data analytics in the cloud

    Implement information fusion from multiple distributed sensors, historical and contextual information to provide higher level of abstraction to C3.
  • 4. Networks for ICT4D

    Development of solutions for ad-hoc broadband networks for remote locations in developing countries.

'C3', 'Companion' Competence Center

Using the tools emerging from EIT CC, the Companion Competence Centre (C3) will study relevant societal challenges within scientific domains in relation to humans, in order to design ‘companions’, which are non-intrusive, assistive tools for everyday life in the domains below:

  • 1. Mind and behaviour

    Researching human interaction with computers, with a particular focus on human dignity, ethics, perception, cognition, communication and cultural aspects.
  • 2. Health and wellbeing

    Researching solutions for patient empowerment, reducing burden in public health care and streamlining the path to full digitally supported health.
  • 3. Nutrition

    Understanding what people eat, why they eat it, and how healthier and more sustainable behaviours could be encouraged towards gains in health and reduction of food waste.
  • 4. Agriculture

    Considering applications suitable to developed and developing regions towards sustainability and efficiency gains by introducing precision agriculture.
  • 5. Activity monitoring

    Understanding the users, their activities, context and behaviour, and providing tailored recommendations and tools that will be useful for tackling the challenges of coping with ageing and health conditions, preventing diseases by keeping an active and healthy lifestyle, improving the performance of sports athletes and increasing public safety and security.
  • 6. Community tools and social inclusion

    Developing inclusive tools, which make use of crowdsourcing and data mining concepts, focused on citizen empowerment, participatory monitoring, urban service delivery, and social equity.