Digitalisation & Networking

Digitization involves the conversion of analog to digital data (digitizing). This leads to new technological possibilities. Data can now be transported and accessed on different media, and the foundation for digital networking has been laid (Hess, 2013). This networking will result in far-reaching processes of change (digitization). This has implications for people, socio-technical systems, society and the economy (Baxter & Sommerville, 2011; BMWi, 2015). The change process involves mobilisation, flexibility and transparency in both professional and private contexts.

From an occupational science perspective, the following questions arise and are currently being researched:

  • What effects result from the adaptation process between humans (work person, user), technology (work equipment, products) and organization?
  • What does the development and design of interfaces between people, technology and organisation look like?

The human being is understood here both as a working person within a work system and as a user of products. He is both the centre and the starting point for the design of digital systems.


The research area digitization and networking aims to meet these challenges. The Institute's academic staff have joined forces in interest groups and work together on the following topics:

Physical and mental stress:

Digitization and networking change working tools and tasks. For example, support systems can be introduced to assist staff in their work and provide context-sensitive information. These systems again have an impact on physical and mental stress, which needs to be examined more closely.

Human-machine interaction:

Data and information are retrieved and processed via digital media. In addition, new interaction systems are being developed, such as collaborative robots or adaptive (automatically adapting) technologies. Questions arising in this context concern acceptance, trust and emotions in the interaction between humans and technology.

Data processing and data disclosure:

Digitisation and networking goes hand in hand with the processing of large amounts of data. This can be process-related data, but also personal data. The application scenarios here are very broad and range from automated vehicles and the use of employee-related data in production to the use of wearables for health promotion and prevention. In addition to data security and data protection conditions that must be observed when processing data, data disclosure also plays a major role.

Artificial Intelligence

The research topics of the interest groups are driven by novel technologies and innovations that are emerging in the context of digitisation and networking efforts. One current technology is the combination of machines or assistance systems and artificial intelligence (AI). By artificial intelligence, the interest groups understand a learning or acting technology that changes independently over time. Of particular interest for the research focus is the so-called weak AI, i.e. systems that can react adaptively to situations but do not develop completely independently, but require data input from sensors or a user. AI plays a role in all interest groups. The use of AI in assistance systems results in additional changes, especially in psychological stress (e.g. tunnel vision). The interaction and acceptance of artificial intelligence is also an exciting field of investigation. Since the weak AI is dependent on the processing of personal information for further development, interesting questions regarding data processing and data disclosure arise here as well.


Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWI) (2015): Industrie 4.0 und Digitale Wirtschaft: Impulse für Wachstum, Beschäftigung und Innovation. Berlin.

Baxter, G., Sommerville, I. (2011). Socio-technical systems: From design methods to systems engineering. Interacting with computers, 23(1), 4–17.

Hess, T. (2013). Digitalisierung. Verfügbar unter: (Abruf am 21.05.2019).



Digitalisation & Networking