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Over the last few years, Multimodal human Interaction (MI) has become an important field of increasing attention. Advanced man-machine interfaces with high cognitive capabilities are a hot research topic that aims at solving challenging application problems in the information technology society. The outstanding need for the development of interactive systems with cognitive capabilities is clearly reflected, for instance, in the Spanish Research Programme for Information Technologies and in the Information and Communication Technologies work Programme of the European Union,where these developments are included as one of the priority research challenges for short and middle term research in information systems.

The idea of computer interactive systems stems from the early stages of computer science. In the seventies, Jarvis already foresaw a highly relevant role of areas such as Computer Vision (CV) and Pattern Recognition (PR) in the development of advanced man-machine interfaces [1]. Nevertheless, from those bright promises, only a very small fraction of the huge potential of PR and CV in MI has been actually exploited so far [2].

Tapping this potential entails several research challenges and opportunities in order to adapt PR and CV approaches to the dynamic and changing environments of interactive systems. This project aims to establish a research program to explore all these opportunities and challenges. The ultimate goal is to show how existing PR and CV technologies can naturally evolve to help developing advanced multi-modal interactive systems that will realize the long standing promises of a seamless synergy between persons and machines.

The research consortium that has been constituted to achieve this goal is composed of $81$ highly qualified scientists and engineers from seven research groups and ten different public research institutions. This staff includes many internationally renowned researchers in the fields of Pattern Recognition, Machine Learning, Image Processing, Computer Vision, Speech and Language Processing and Robotics.