Archive for May, 2007

Vehicles and pervasive computing

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

As you might now I attended PerCom a couple of months ago.

During the panel discussion, there was an interesting conclusion that vehicles are the most pervasive devices available today.
If you think about it vehicles contain a large number of sensors:

  • Speed
  • Acceleration
  • Yaw, G sensors (for ESP)
  • Temperature (environment, engine, tires)
  • Light sensors (automatic lights etc)
  • Fuel consumption, oxygen level, CO2 levels
  • GPS, Navigation system, maps etc.
  • Noise (to automatically regulate car radio volume)

Furthermore, modern vehicles have a number of ways to communicate (FM Radio (RDS,TMC), Bluetooth, GSM, soon 802.11n (WAVE) ). In my opinion, all these features already constitute vehicles as mobile sensor platforms. By exploiting already available sensors we can design numerous applications:

  • Road traffic monitoring (using acceleration and speed sensors)
  • Distributed pollution and temperature monitoring
  • Parking information
  • Formation of platoons of vehicles (e.g. maximize road capacity)
  • Dissemination of warning information
  • Accident avoidance (e.g. break when approaching a red light fast)
  • Visual enhancement (e.g. provide information on the windshield about traffic ahead, red light warning).
  • Landmarks/advertisement
  • Communication between vehicles (voice/file sharing etc)

All these application can be implemented either centrally (e.g. using GSM) or in an Ad-Hoc manner. Although the first approach is more reliable and fast it has some disadvantages:

  • Centralized data may be outdated and the response time may not meet the real-time requirements. Especially if we want local information (like “is the traffic light ahead red?”, “is there a parking spot within 100m?”)
  • Current centralized communication solutions (GSM, WiMAX) may not be able to handle the burden of real-time monitoring of hundreds of thousands of vehicles. These services are allready congested with million of mobile phone users.
  • Infrastructure could be quite expensive, especially if the area to be covered is large. Furthermore, infrastructure may not be available, especially in remote and isolated areas (you haven’t been on mountains in Greece ;) ).
  • Ad-hoc service is free and it can provide more concentrated local information (e.g. advertisements etc)

However, there are a lot of research issues in order to implement all these Ad-Hoc applications:

  • We need robust routing protocols that work both in dense urban areas and sparser areas (e.g. DTN).
  • We need dissemination protocols that take into account the interest of the vehicles/drivers to avoid flooding the drivers with unnecessary information and cause congestion to the network
  • We need MAC protocols that are able to deliver information to high-speed moving vehicles.
  • We need extremely robust trust and security mechanisms because there are human lives at risk!!

My last year’s research was manly focused on two areas:
How to exploit the navigation system of the car to route and disseminate messages, and how to use the Publish/Subscribe communication paradigm to achieve that.

Navigation systems are becoming more and more popular. A part from navigation suggestions, navigation systems provide valuable information that is currently not generally used. First of all, the GPS unit provides the vehicle’s geographical location. Furthermore, the NS map provides various geographical information: street names and numbers, location of points of interest (like fuel stations, train stations, etc), kilometer ranges, etc. This information may be extended to include the location of known infostations so that the vehicle can geographically route information to them.

At the same time, the most important information that the NS provides is the suggested route of the vehicle: This information 1)makes the mobility patterns of the vehicles more predictable. Additionally, 2)it can be exploited to extract interests, which can be used to design efficient routing and dissemination protocols and to filter information that is only relevant to the driver without his/her intervention (for example an accident warning affects only vehicles that will drive near the accident).

Therefore, in the last months I examined how we exploit the navigation systems (suggested routes to predict mobility patterns and to extract subscriptions) in order to design a vehicular routing algorithm and a Publish/Subscribe system.

You can find the results here
There is also some additional work on Pub/sub issues but we have to wait the reviewers first :)

Ilias Leontiadis

Mapping Traffic Flow

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

New will enable drivers to find the quickest route to their final destination.

A Boston-based company has integrated new trafficking software into its map database so that drivers can find the most optimal route based on speed rather than distance. The software determines the average speed of roadways across the United States based on two years of historical traffic-speed data collected from commercial fleet vehicles; it uses real-time global positioning software and road sensors from the department of transportation.

Trust at CHI

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Following a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Online Trust at this year’s CHI
conference, Asimina Vasalou and Jens Riegelsberger have set up a website at as an online resource for trust-related activities

Movida Tech en BCN

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Baja Beach Club in Barcelona. Bikini-clad waitresses serve drinks to guest as a DJ mixes music from a motorboat perched above the dance floor. The club is the biggestg “beach club” in Barcelona and has also a member-only VIP area. To be a member, you need to get implanted an RFID tag in your arm. The tag is encoded with your credit card number for quick and easy payment. Conrad Chase (the club’s owner) points out that many people already have pierciengs and tattoos. “Having a radio-transmitting chip under your skin makes you very unique”, he says. Ya, right!

American Express is a step ahead of Conrad. The company has patented a technique to track people in the public places based on the RFID tags in their clothing and products they carry.

(more on The Economist, April 28th ’07)

Vehicular nets: a promising application of reputation models

Monday, May 7th, 2007

In Italy, hackers have introduced erroneous messages into the traffic signal sent to GPS devices (article). This exemplifies the pay someone to do your assignment need of security for vehicular networks. Part of the needed security mechanims may be offered by reputation (trust) models as two recent papers show:

A Data Intensive Reputation Management Scheme for Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (pdf)
On the Benefits of Cheating by Self-Interested Agents in Vehicular Networks (pdf)

Emerging Technologies 2007

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Technology Review’s annual list of emerging technologies to watch comprises projects in a broad range of fields, including medicine, energy, and computer science. In computer science, the emerging technologies are:

Peering into Video’s Future
The Internet is about to drown in digital video. Hui Zhang thinks peer-to-peer networks could come to the rescue.

Augmented Reality
Markus Kähäri wants to superimpose digital information on the real world.

John Guttag says using computers to automate some diagnostics could make medicine more personal.

Sociometric Badge

Friday, May 4th, 2007

From this post. Sociometric Badge, a sensing platform that logs voice features, proximity to other individuals, face-to-face interactions, and movement. Results of an analysis of data obtained in a preliminary study at a German bank’s marketing division:

. Proximity is highly negatively correlated with e-mail use
(-> if you are in close proximity to another individual, it makes more sense to interact with them in the real world rather than send them an e-mail)

. Communication between managers and employees was very highly negatively correlated with perceived interaction quality ( -> having more interactions with either your subordinates or your boss is draining).

. Email and proximity ties were highly correlated when communication was present and both individuals were of the same hierarchical level
(-> e-mail communication between individuals with the same role increases as their proximate time increases)

(paper to appear in NetSci ’07)

Thinking creatively about crime

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

A talk by Prof. Gloria Laycock on 22nd May 2007 at 18.00 hrs in room G08 of the Roberts Building, UCL

Prof. Laycock is director of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, with over 30 years research experience in the policing and crime prevention field.

If you wish to attend this event please register on-line .

*There is a £3.00 registration fee for non-club members (payable on the night). The deadline for registration is 18th May 2007.