Digitally Multisensory: From Human-Like to Human-Centered Principles

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Type and Duration

FFF-Förderprojekt, July 2020 until June 2022


Chair of Information Systems and Innovation

Main Research

Business Process Management

Field of Research

Digital Innovation


Digital technologies are already ubiquitous in our daily lives, but they can do even more
when they are able to communicate with us through various sensory modalities. Even
though most interfaces rely on vision and hearing, some digital technologies also take the
potentials of other sensory perceptions into account. Examples include digital tools for
fragrance creation by combining scents and users’ preferences (e.g., Philyra), or software
enabling choreography and improvisation by fusing touch, vision and movement. These
digital support tools deal with two or more sensory modalities of their users, doing so
directly or indirectly. Such multisensory digital support tools are intended to support
humans and can follow two design approaches: human-like and human-centered. Humancentered design is based on the principle of serving the user’s needs. Human-like design
follows a different principle by drawing on anthropomorphism, and building support tools
that imbue non-human entities with human attributes.
So far, research has rarely discussed the dialectic of human-like and human-centered
approaches to designing digital tools, and even less so in the context of multisensory
computing and interfaces. This project will contribute to the knowledge accumulation in both
areas. Thus, we aim to understand the differences between a human-like and a humancentered approach to design and how the differences are related to the design of
multisensory digital support tools. Moreover, we aim to explore how these differences affect
their use by expert users in highly creative and innovative tasks (e.g., choreographers and
sommeliers). The main goals of this project are (a) to develop a framework for analyzing
digital support tools for activities that involve multisensory perception in highly creative or
innovative processes, (b) to apply a human-centered approach to the framework, and (c)
to formulate a set of design principles for human-centered multisensory design.

Practical Application

Through this project, we will understand the differences between human-like and humancentered approach to design and how the differences are related to the design of
multisensory digital support tools, including their use by expert users (e.g., choreographers
and perfume noses). This project will contribute to the practice of designing digital support
tools. Our findings will be synthesized in a set of design principles for multi-sensory digital
support tools that are also human-centered. These principles can be applied in the design
of several classes of systems, such as web augmentation, expert systems, ambient
systems, collaboration support systems, and digital education systems.

Reference to Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is known for its beautiful nature, sense for aesthetics, culinary offerings and
arts. Human-centered multisensory support tools can offer new business opportunities and
novel avenues to promote Liechtenstein’s offerings. Our findings on multisensory tools,
support the generation of innovative ideas and help further digital initiatives in
Liechtenstein. Additionally, Liechtenstein will benefit from the dissemination of cutting-edge
research on the human-centered design of multisensory systems. The findings of the
project will be integrated into teaching, such as the new course “Human-centered Design”,
and transferred to practice.


digital Innovation, digital technology


  • Forschungsförderungsfonds der Universität Liechtenstein