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J. Domaszewicz, S. Lalis, A. Pruszkowski, M. Koutsoubelias, T. Tajmajer, N. Grigoropoulos, M. Nati, A. Gluhak: “Soft Actuation: Smart Home and Office with Human-in-the-Loop”; IEEE Pervasive Computing, 2016.

Considerable effort in the area of context-aware systems goes into applications that process sensor data to proactively drive actuators. However, there are concerns about such fully automated operation. Most notably, due to imperfect context inferences, actuating decisions can be contrary to the user’s desires. In this article, the authors focus on what they refer to as soft actuation: issuing low-key, nonverbal hints prompting the user to optionally perform a simple manual operation on a nearby object. Soft actuation promotes the user to decision maker and active agent. It targets noncritical applications for the home or office. In the spirit of calm technology, special care is taken to respect the user’s attention. The authors elaborate the interaction concept and present its experimental evaluation “in the wild.” The results are encouraging, given that users liked the soft-actuating system and accepted quite a few hints.