ViBe–Virtual Companion


Mobile senior citizens, who were formerly used to travel by car, may feel increasingly insecure when suddenly being dependent on public transport or when driving in unfamiliar surroundings due to age-related physiological or cognitive limitations. To enhance their feeling of security, ensure sustained mobility and thus support their active participation in public and social urban life, we develop and evaluate a virtual companion (in German: Virtueller Begleiter) within the project ViBe. This mobile assistant is planned to have the size of a mobile phone, which is mainly operated via voice control. Main element of ViBe is a bi-directional video and audio transmission between the user and a back office. The back office holds available human operators, who are verbally-communicatively, and on demand as well visually, connected with the senior citizen. This service wards off inevitable technological shortcomings of an automated assistance system. The combination of an electronic aid and a human background support service follows the principles of extreme interaction simplification, the avoidance of operational errors, high trust, and a maximum of assurance.

Within ViBe, HFC takes the responsibility for the user-centered design of the mobile system as well as for the working positions of the back-office staff. We also develop a training concept for the back-office workers.

This project is supported by Bundesminsterium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Federal Ministry of Education and Research).



  • Requirements Definition
  • Focusgroups & Interviews
  • Scenariobased Development
  • Interaction and Operating Concepts, Story Boards and GUI-Design
  • Usability-Testing
  • Statistics


R&D Partners

  • DResearch Digital Media Systems GmbH (Coordinator)
  • VIOM GmbH
  • Sympalog Voice Solutions GmbH
  • HFC Human-Factors-Consult GmbH
  • nexus Institut GmbH
  • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, FG Geriatrie

Associated Partners

  • Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband Berlin e.V.
  • Johannesstift Altenhilfe gGmbH
  • Albatros gGmbH
  • Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg GmbH
  • United Maps GmbH