A Home With a Brain

Urban Space, Rural Space, Cyberspace: The Bielefeld Cluster of Excellence delivers an innovation for the digital, networked world.

The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Bielefeld University was honored as a winner in the 2015 Germany-wide innovation competition called “Landmarks in the Land of Ideas” for its smart apartment KogniHome. Under the competition’s theme of “Urban Space, Rural Space, Cyberspace! Innovations for a Digital World” this research project in the category of “Science” provides an answer to the question of how intelligent technology can enable the elderly and individuals requiring care to lead independent lives.

In KogniHome, the door greets visitors, the hallway mirror reminds you to take your key, and the stovetop warns you if the milk is going to boil over. This may sound like science fiction, but these are just a few things the smart apartment can do. 14 partners from academic research institutes and industry, but also social work and health care are working together to develop KogniHome. The goal is to create an apartment can support its residents in the tasks of daily living. Equipped with smart, “learning” technologies, the apartment can be operated easily using simple language or gestures. This innovation offers people. Particularly for the elderly or the handicapped, this innovation offers people the chance to remain at home within their own four walls for longer.

The “Germany – Land of Ideas” initiative, together with the Deutsche Bank, are using this competition to highlight common ideas and projects that are positively contributing to the design of a networked world and respond to the challenges of the digital transformation. Matthias Scheffner, member of the regional management West of the Deutsche Bank presented Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter with the award of “Selected Landmark,” declaring that “KogniHome is an excellent example of how we here in Germany are shaping the digital transformation: interdisciplinarily, with an eye on the future, and above all, with a focus on people’s needs.”


Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter responded to the award saying that “We are very pleased to be a ‘Selected Landmark’ in the ‘Land of Ideas.’ This is an extra boost of motivation for our research on developing and designing the future technologies of the digital transformation, and it helps us to introduce our work to a wider public.”

Together with a 5-member advisory board, a panel of experts from academics, business, journalism, and politics selected KogniHome, the smart apartment, as one of the 100 award winners from over 1,000 project applications.