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  • Knowledge, Organization and Technical Systems (Costech)

    Cos­tech is the mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­na­ry research unit of the TSH depart­ment at UTC. Its par­ti­cu­la­ri­ty is to be cen­te­red on the rela­tions bet­ween man, tech­nique and socie­ty, accor­ding to three levels: the tech­ni­cal­ly consti­tu­ted and tech­ni­cal­ly consti­tu­ting dimen­sions of the human expe­rience (CRED team), new social prac­tices around digi­tal media and devices (team EPIN), the mode­ling and mana­ge­ment of inno­va­tion and socio-tech­ni­cal changes spe­ci­fic to contem­po­ra­ry capi­ta­lism (CRI team).


    The role of the Cos­tech unit is to deve­lop research in the huma­ni­ties and social sciences (SHS) in the context of an engi­nee­ring school, which is also a uni­ver­si­ty of tech­no­lo­gy. In this way, and throu­ghout its his­to­ry, the Cos­tech pro­ject has been part of the confluence of SHS and engi­nee­ring sciences.

    The unit's pro­ject for the next five-year per­iod is to deve­lop tech­no­lo­gi­cal research in SHS in / on contem­po­ra­ry socio-tech­ni­cal environments.

    From the UTC-Cos­tech point of view, tech­no­lo­gies are conco­mi­tant­ly the objects and the means for our research. We par­ti­ci­pate in the imple­men­ta­tion of real devices: desi­gning the inter­faces and cou­pling units, par­ti­ci­pa­ting in the inno­va­tion pro­cesses that derive from the ana­lyses, imple­men­ta­tion of peda­go­gi­cal or par­ti­ci­pa­tive sys­tems and deve­lop­ment of value-added stra­te­gies.

    Research teams and thematics

    The Cos­tech labo­ra­to­ry cur­rent­ly has 3 inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry groups:

    • Cog­ni­tive Research and Enac­tion Desi­gn (CRED)
    • Com­plexi­ty, Net­works and Inno­va­tion (CRI)
    • Ana­ly­sis of Digi­tal Inter­ac­tive Prac­tices (EPIN)

    Cos­tech is espe­cial­ly enga­ged in 2 trans­verse priorities:

    • Care tech­no­lo­gies (p.e. sys­tèmes de sup­pléance d'organes),
    • Coope­rate in a digi­tal envi­ron­ment (p.e. dis­po­si­tifs de l'économie col­la­bo­ra­tive).

    Cos­tech has 3 tech­no­lo­gi­cal platforms:

    • Per­cep­tual sub­sti­tu­tion (tac­tile inter­faces for the blind),
    • Digi­tal hall at the inno­va­tion cen­ter (inter­ac­tive col­la­bo­ra­tive tables),
    • CIMA (advan­ced medi­cal ima­ging cen­ter).


    UTC-Cos­tech is invol­ved in inter­na­tio­nal research net­works: Desi­gn Socie­ty, Réseau DEL (démo­cra­tie élec­tro­nique), Elec­tro­nic Lite­ra­ture Orga­ni­za­tion (créa­tion numé­rique)…

    The labo­ra­to­ry is also invol­ved in nume­rous research pro­jects, in particular: 

    • the Labex MS2T on sys­tems of sys­tems (UTC),
    • the Trans­Num pro­gram on digi­tal trans­for­ma­tions (Sor­bonne Université),
    • the group of scien­ti­fic inter­est (GIS) cal­led "the Tech­no­lo­gy and Social Sciences Unit" UTSH (réseau des UT) which groups toge­ther four higher edu­ca­tion and tech­no­lo­gi­cal research esta­blish­ments: Ins­ti­tut poly­tech­nique Uni­La­Salle Beau­vais and the three French uni­ver­si­ties of tech­no­lo­gy (UTBM, UTC and UTT). The objec­tive assi­gned to the GIS is to pro­mote research and tea­ching of social sciences in a tech­no­lo­gi­cal context.

    Indus­trial part­ners and civil socie­ty: Renault, Das­sault Avia­tion, DCNS, Air­bus, Decath­lon, EDF, IRCAM, Ineris, Orange Lab., Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, Cnes, Édu­ca­tion natio­nale, asso­cia­tion Déci­der ensemble, Com­mis­sion natio­nale du débat public, CHU Amiens… 

    UTC-Cos­tech has a close part­ner­ship with seve­ral of its spin-off com­pa­nies Link­fluence, Intel­li­tech, Cooprex Inter­na­tio­nal, Novi­tact, L'Atelier Ice­berg et Ubi­key. These spin-offs relate in par­ti­cu­lar to the visua­li­za­tion of data, the construc­tion of coope­ra­tion and trust or col­la­bo­ra­tive work.


    The Cos­tech Labo­ra­to­ry is invol­ved in nume­rous research pro­jects – with both pri­vate and public fun­ding – and in tech­no­lo­gi­cal deve­lop­ment programmes.

    Picardie regional projects

    • Deve­lop­ment of per­cep­tion sub­sti­tu­tion for the blind with ITOIP (acro­nym for Tac­tile Inter­ac­tions to aid Orien­ta­tion, Infor­ma­tion and Pre­sence), Por­tin­te­ract (the tac­tile Inter­net Por­tal) and Spa­cei (per­cep­tive sub­sti­tu­tion for atten­tion in digi­tal inter­ac­tions), all three pro­jects being sup­por­ted finan­cial­ly by the Picar­die Region.
    • Deve­lop­ment of tac­tile devices for pre­li­mi­na­ry, col­la­bo­ra­tive desi­gn work using a mul­ti-user tac­tile table (Tatin) – the Intel­li­gent Desi­gn Plat­form (Tatin-Pic), in col­la­bo­ra­tion with the UTC-Heu­dia­syc laboratory.
    • PRECIP, in a col­la­bo­ra­tion with secon­da­ry school tea­chers on the topic of digi­tal wri­ting which is a sub­ject mat­ter that can be taught in mul­ti-media, inter­ac­tive or col­la­bo­ra­tive modes.

    ANR project

    • Digi­tal wri­ting and crea­tion, with ENEID (acro­nym for digi­tal eter­ni­ties, post-mor­tem digi­tal iden­ti­ties and inno­va­tive memo­rial uses of the web seen from lite­ra­ry genre ana­ly­sis perspective).
    • Post-mor­tem digi­tal iden­ti­ties and inno­va­tive memo­rial uses of the web through the prism of gender.

    Bpifrance project

    Stu­dies on the digi­tal print with the Dyna­mi­Ci­ty pro­ject, in a part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Shan­ghai, Chi­na, to bet­ter unders­tand the spe­ci­fic fea­tures of the conur­ba­tions of Paris and Shan­ghai ana­ly­sed via digi­tal data, thro­wing light on the best oppor­tu­ni­ties and valo­ri­sa­tion of the data bases com­pa­red with other infor­ma­tion from various social net­works, etc. This pro­ject is car­ried out in col­la­bo­ra­tion with Link­fluence who ensure the gathe­ring and ana­ly­sis of the data and Xerox documents.

    Cos­tech works with the 'pro­ject nur­se­ry' which houses pro­jects ini­tia­ted in part­ner­ship with the research world and see­king to become self-stan­ding. These pro­jects would nor­mal­ly then move to the UTC Inno­va­tion Centre (e.g.,the Feel­tact Pro­ject).

    The research acti­vi­ties are coor­di­na­ted round inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry "translation"workshops, PhD level semi­nars, annual semi­nars such as Phi­te­co (Philosophy,Technology and Cog­ni­tion), CCT (Com­mu­ni­ca­ting Tech­no­lo­gi­cal Know­ledge) and the Tech­no­lo­gy & Phi­lo­so­phy platform.

    Zoom on a project

    Charles Lenay and the team at Cos­tech (acro­nym in French for know­ledge and social sciences) which is a labo­ra­to­ry that has left a mark on UTC's image which other­wise would be seen just as a world of engi­neers. Lear­ning what tech­niques and tech­no­lo­gy do to us, impac­ting even the way we think, the way we per­ceive things, our human and mate­rial his­to­ry… the Cos­tech teams constant­ly raise new ques­tions for all the research scien­tists at UTC.

    "We exa­mi­ned the ques­tion of cog­ni­tive repla­ce­ment on the basis of work done by the Ame­ri­can scien­tist BACH-Y-RITA". What he cal­led Tac­tile Vision Sub­sti­tu­tion Sys­tem (TVSS) trans­forms images from came­ras into tac­tile sen­sa­tions that the brain can per­ceive and trans­late in the case of a blind per­son fit­ted with appro­priate ins­tru­ment, into some­thing the blind per­son can"see". "The ques­tion is, why did TVSS not meet with wide-scale suc­cess?" ques­tions Charles Lenay."What we obser­ved was that this form of per­cep­tion did not pro­cure any emo­tio­nal input, contra­ry to what hap­pens when we use the other senses. Tech­no­lo­gy here is the­re­fore not a sub­sti­tute but more a repla­ce­ment aid."

    The UTC Cos­tech team came up with and deve­lo­ped ano­ther sys­tem, TACTOS, that enables blind per­sons to see com­pu­ter screens and to reco­gnize various shapes (icons, win­dows, columns). A screen mar­ker (e.g., a mouse gui­ded arrow ..) moves across the screen and trig­gers a tac­tile sen­sa­tion via a small gene­ra­tor box pla­ced under the index fin­ger. When using a TACTOS fit­ted device, a blind per­son can "spa­tia­lise" information.

    A research pro­gramme has been laun­ched with the Picar­die Region autho­ri­ties to deve­lop a 'Tac­tile Inter­face for Orien­ta­tion, Inter­ac­tion and Pre­sence' (ITOIP). "With a por­table unit like a GPS, a blind per­son can dis­cre­te­ly receive infor­ma­tion (in tac­tile form) that cha­rac­te­rises his/her sur­roun­dings". This appli­ca­tion opens up routes to other pos­si­bi­li­ties, in intro­du­cing tac­tile "encoun­ters" in a vir­tual space.

    Could we envi­sage Inter­net car­rying emo­tion? "Well, the very fact of encoun­te­ring ano­ther person's mar­ker is signi­fi­cant, because we then know that the other per­son has iden­ti­fied our pre­sence". The Cos­tech scien­tists are busy assem­bling a tac­tile, emo­tio­nal "voca­bu­la­ry" using gra­phic emo­ti­cons as seen in e‑mail mes­sages. "Very often" insists Charles Lenay (thin­king of recent remote control devices) "research for tech­no­lo­gies to assist a given cate­go­ry of per­sons ends up hel­ping eve­ryone."

    Contact and documentation

    Contacts de la recherche à l'UTC

    Direc­teur du labo­ra­toire Cos­tech
    Fran­çois-Xavier Guchet
     +33 (0)3 44 23 44 25
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