DigiTOP Definitions

User Centred Design Terms


An example of a potential user of a system- a persona is used to describe the kind of person who would use something. Using a persona helps you to consider the range of different people who might use a technology.

Use Case

A use case is usually defined by industry, and gives an example of technology being used, typically for a task (in working contexts). The use case can then be used to guide the design or evaluation of that technology. 


A scenario tells the story of a persona using a technology. The setting for that story should normally be guided by the industrial use case. Scenarios can show that different personas may experience a use case differently. 

Human Work Terms


Productivity refers to the ratio between inputs and outputs. Labour productivity is defined by the Office of National Statistics as measuring the amount of economic output that is produced by a unit of labour input. Output for a nation is measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, productivity can also be applied to smaller settings, such as a company, a process or even a person. In these contexts, productivity still refers to the ratio of inputs to outputs – so a factory which produces a higher number of outputs with the same number of inputs (people, machines) would be more productive than one that produces fewer outputs. Productivity can be influenced by a range of different things, and more broad considerations of productivity may include concepts such as Quantity, Profitability, Timeliness, Autonomy, Efficiency, Quality, Effectiveness, Customer satisfaction, Innovation/ creativity, Project success, Responsibility/ importance of work and Absenteeism.  


We can refer to performance of a person, a technology, or, more often, the combined performance of a person and technology together. For cognitive work this might be known as the performance of the joint cognitive system. Performance broadly describes the completion of a given task measured against the previously defined standards of accuracy, completeness, cost and speed. Often, the word performance can be used to mean how “well” a person or technology does a piece of work or activity. 


Workload refers to the balance between the demands placed upon an individual, and the resource they have available to meet this demand. Workload can mean physical workload or cognitive workload (often called mental workload). Someone who is experiencing a very high workload, where they are not able to meet the demands placed upon them, will be likely to demonstrate lower performance, perhaps making errors, feeling stressed, or struggling to keep up with their work.


The word ‘Cognitive’ describes a range of mental processes or unconscious reactions. Examples of cognitive concepts include mental effort, emotion, stress, fatigue, vigilance, or attention. Cognitive concepts cannot normally be directly measured but are usually described using numbers derived from self-ratings, can be inferred from performance measures, or through indirect physiological responses (like changes in skin moisture, or electrical activity in the brain). 

Situational Awareness

Situation awareness can be used to describe how well a person is able to perceive their environment and events, with respect to time and space, how well they can understand the meaning of the data that they perceived, and how they can use that understanding to predict or project how the environment and events will change in the future. Someone with a high level of situation awareness may be described as ‘in the loop’ – fully aware of what is happening, and able to respond quickly to unexpected events. Someone with a low situation awareness may have to work harder to keep up with what is happening, and may be more reactive, rather than proactive, as they respond. 

Ironies of Automation

A term coined by Lisanne Bainbridge, the Ironies of Automation refers to the unintended consequences of introducing automation into work systems. It notes that in some cases, when we introduce automation with the aim of reducing the burden on the operator, in fact, we simply change, or even increase, that burden. 

Digital Manufacturing Industry Terms

Digital Manufacturing

Digital Manufacturing refers to the use of smart, digital, autonomous, and intelligent technologies within the manufacturing sector. These technologies include robotics, virtual, and augmented reality, sensors, and distributed data networks. 

Industrial Digitalisation

Digitisation is the conversion of text, pictures or sound into a digital form that can be processed by a computer. [Industrial] Digitisation, therefore, is the digitisation of business technology and processes. 


A robot is a re-programmable machine capable of performing complex manoeuvrers with speed and precision. Robots can be grouped according to their ‘architecture’ and their ‘functionality’. From an architecture point of view, robots can be classified into ‘open chain’ mechanisms with a high degree of freedom of movement, or ‘closed chain’ mechanisms such as flight simulators and mobile robots. Robots can be classified into industrial robots, social robots, and service robots. 

Collaborative- Robot

Robots are robots that are designed to safely interact and/ or collaborate in close proximity with humans in a shared workspace. They can be considered to be working together with people to complete a shared task or goal. 


Automation refers to the replacement of a previously manual process with technology. An increased amount of automation leads to a reduction in the number of people in a system, or the number of direct actions that are required from people within that system. A highly automated process or procedure is completed with minimal human interaction.


Autonomy refers to when technology works independently, without direct input from people. Autonomous technologies make rational and informed decisions independently, often using artificial intelligence. 

Digital Manufacturing Technologies (DMT)

Similar to Industrial Digital Technologies, DMT refers to the technologies that area used to deliver Digital Manufacturing. These may include robotics, sensor technologies, distributed networking technologies, additive manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence and analytics, simulation, Virtual and Augmented Reality and cloud computing. 

Industrial Digital Technologies (IDT) 

Industrial Digital Technologies include the Industrial Internet of Things, robotics, automation, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence and analytics, simulation, augmented and virtual reality, and cloud based platforms. 

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 refers to the 4th Industrial Revolution. It describes increasing automation within a smart, distributed factory, along with increasingly connected parts of the entire production system. In Industry 4.0, through the use of sensor technologies and cloud computing, we see data being collated bout how products and components are used, and we can use that information to dynamically improve the manufacturing process. 

Society 5.0

The term refers to the idea that Society 5.0 will follow Society 1.0 (hunter-gatherer), Society 2.0 (agricultural), Society 3.0 (industrialised), and Society 4.0 (information). Society 5.0 is a human-cantered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space. 

Digital Twin

“A digital twin is an integrated multi-physics, multi-scale, probabilistic simulation of a complex product. It uses the best available physical models and sensor updates to mirror the life of its corresponding twin.” (NASA 2012). A digital twin can be used in real time to mimic a complex system or can be built in order to predict how the different parts of a complex system might respond to changes in design or operation. 

Computer Science Terms

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the combining of information from the real world with virtually displayed pictures or information. It is useful to consider virtual and augmented reality as on a spectrum – virtual reality is seeing a full visualisation of a virtual world, augmented reality is a blend of the real world and the virtual world together. 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is the representation of a world using computer visualisation technologies. VR technology presents an environment to the user, and often combines visual images with sound and touch. 


An algorithm is a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations. Algorithms are mainly used by computers for calculations, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning

Machine learning describes when algorithms and statistical models are used by computer systems in order to perform a specific task effectively without using explicit instructions. This works by relying on patterns (derived from previously existing data) and interference. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a general term which is often used to describe the use of technology to make decisions or provide recommendations. It can refer technology completing strategic, or ‘knowledge-based’ types of activities, as well as rule-based tasks.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing describes the use of remote, shared storage and distribution networks to connect between different systems. It is distinct from a closed, server-based system, where a single set of storage servers a specific purpose. Cloud computing enables rapid expansion or contraction of capacity of a computing process. 

Big Data

‘Big Data’ has become a colloquial term to describe a massive volume of both structure and unstructured data that requires advanced techniques to manage and process the data. It is often the case that big data is a combination of lots of different data sets. The aim of combing these different data sets is to sport patterns and trends that would not be seen in the individual data sets alone. 

Wizard of OZ

The Wizard of Oz is a technique for making a system appear that it is fully functional, whereas in fact part of the system operation is manually performed. In a Wizard of Oz set-up, we pretend that the system is fully working, when in fact it is not.