Research Areas

Overview of our research areas in the context of consumer informatics


The mobility industry is undergoing a major upheaval due to digitalisation. Vehicles are increasingly being networked and digitalised (Connected Car). This results in new application potentials and business models. For example, existing reputation systems in peer-to-peer (P2P) car sharing can be supplemented by IoT-based driver ratings to promote confidence building in P2P car sharing. In the future, we will also probably be able to use self-driving cars as a means of transport. Self-propelled vehicles represent a technological leap forward that offers solutions to current traffic problems and can dramatically change the way we deal with mobility. Experts expect driverless cars to reduce accidents and traffic problems and to make traffic flow more efficiently. Self-drive technology will also give rise to new, innovative business models such as vehicle-on-demand services. Fully autonomous car sharing promises improvements in availability as the car comes to the user rather than the other way around. In this context, some researchers see a strong convergence of taxi and car sharing. Various authors expect a significant reduction of private cars by strengthening usage-based mobility services. In order to gain a better understanding of user acceptance and to better predict future changes in mobility behavior, we investigate mobility practices in the context of car sharing, intermodal mobility and autonomous vehicles. We also investigate new technologies such as IoT-based driver assessment and block-chain-based car sharing platforms taking into account environmental, social and individual factors of mobility.


The penetration of IT artefacts into society is also leading to a change in consumer practices. For example, in the retail sector, product labels are no longer printed on packaging alone, but are increasingly available on the Internet. Guide journals are supplemented by evaluation portals where consumers can exchange information. Cash is being replaced by new forms of cashless payment transactions, and shopping itself is becoming increasingly digital. This change is opening up new opportunities to support the life and everyday economies of consumers through IT. However, modern economic life has not only changed consumer practices, but also demands new skills from consumers. For example, the increasing range of goods on offer requires consumers to inform themselves efficiently about the market, to negotiate prices, to buy goods cheaply and to build and maintain networks of trust. Due to various information asymmetries, however, the consumer is usually in a weaker position than the manufacturer or retailer. For this reason, consumers are increasingly demanding greater transparency, e.g. in the food industry, especially after various food scandals have repeatedly come to the attention of the media. This unsettles consumers and increases their need for more comprehensive product information. Although much information is already available free of charge, it is rarely actively used because it has not been prepared and made available in a way that meets their needs. The demand-oriented design of information and communication technologies is necessary to promote the role model of the responsible consumer by supporting the household economies and everyday practices of consumers – starting with the planning, purchase, storage, use and consumption of goods. One of the biggest challenges is to integrate consumers and their IT into the information logistics of the consumer economy.


The consumer market for smart home retrofit solutions is booming. With the emerging Internet of Things, not only established companies such as Apple, Samsung or Google are trying to position their individual or system solutions, but also many (industry) newcomers. While the use cases of individual smart home components are highly individual, system solutions often advertise by addressing three user needs: security, increased comfort and energy savings. In research, however, these topics have so far mostly been investigated separately. Active research into the needs of users in connection with smart home systems has so far been very limited.
For example, individual aspects of a smart home, such as the potential for automation, activity detection and implications for privacy, are being researched. On the level of interface design, studies exist on the use and adaption of individual components of a smart home, such as calendars or mobile interfaces. However, there is hardly any systematic research on barriers to the appropriation and use of smart homes. The digital Behaviours Lab responds to this problem and researches the systematic appropriation and use of smart home solutions in a user-centered way.