Archive for September, 2008

Trusted Computing: Sounds Great, Doesn’t it?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

There is an interesting short video here about trusted computing. Consider it an amateur introduction to what a lot of recent research has been discussing, and perhaps a useful video to spark some discussion with non-research friends.

However, there is a twist in the short- a  doubt about the utlity of trust, once trust decision are made by a machine rather than a person. Do you agree?

Ubicomp 2008

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Many blogs have been covering Ubicomp and, a couple of days ago, I promised to write down my own coverage. Here you go ;-)

The first day I attended the Automated Journeys workshop organized by Arianna Bassoli (who gave a talk at UCL a while back), Johanna Brewer (whose recent work has been covered here; for more, check her blog), and Alex Taylor. The workshop’s format was not  traditional. As part of the workshop, we went out and had lunch :-), and, while doing so, we observed how people in Seoul use technologies.  Then, we came back and, through group discussions and hands-on design brainstorming sessions, we produced  4 envisagements that  critically reflected on technological futures. It was very engaging! I hope other workshops will replicate/mutate this format. I wished I could attend at least two of the  other workshops on offer: Ubiquitous Systems Evaluation partly organized by Chris Kray (I am in debt with him, and he knows why ;-)) and Devices that Alter Perception partly organized by Carson Reynolds.

At Ubicomp, the speakers did not suffer from powerpoint karaoke syndrome, and their slides were generally  well-designed – less text, more images. That is largely because the ubicomp’s community is made of design-conscious (CHI) researchers. Few talks are already available on slideshare.

Here are few papers I personally found intriguing because of their algorithms, their evaluation, or their interesting ideas. At the end of this post, I’ll point to few datasets that have been used and can be of interest ;-)

1. Algorithms

Navigate Like a Cabbie: Probabilistic Reasoning from Observed Context-Aware Behavior. Brian D. Ziebart showed a new way of making route predictions. He used a probabilistic model  presented at AAAI “Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning“.  Interestingly, he showed that the model works upon data that is noisy and imperfect.

Pedestrian Localisation for Indoor Environments. Oliver Woodman proposed a way of  tracking people indoor. Oliver and Robert showed how to combine a foot-mounted unit, a building model, and a particle filter to track people in a building. They experimentally showed that users can be effectively tracked within 1m without knowing their initial positions. Great results! It’s a paper well worth reading!

Discovery of Activity Patterns using Topic Models. Bernt Schiele presented a new method for recognizing a person’s activities from wearable sensors.  This method adapts probabilistic topic models and has been shown to recognize daily routines without user annotation.  One of Bernt’s students had an interesting poster on detecting location transitition using sensor data (pdf).

2. Evaluation

A couple of papers (including the great work done by Matthew Lee)  used a method called the Wizard of Oz evaluation. The general idea is to simulate those parts of the system (e.g., speech recognition) that require most effort in terms of development or to assess the suitability of your interface(see “Wizard of Oz studies – why and how” (pdf) for more).

Flowers or a Robot Army? Encouraging Awareness & Activity with Personal, Mobile Displays by Sunny Consolvo et al.  They designed a system that makes it possible for mobile users to self-monitor their physical activities and conducted a greatly designed 3-month field experiment.

Reflecting on the Invisible: Understanding End-User Perceptions of Ubiquitous Computing (pdf). Erika Shehan Poole detailed end-user perceptions of RFID technology using an interesting qualitative method that combines structured interviews and photo elicitation excercises. Erika and her mates show that, by using this method, one is able to uncover perceptions that are often difficult for study participants to verbalize.  One of her findings: many people believed that RFID can be used to remotely tract the location of tagged objects, people, or animals!

3. Interesting Ideas

Bookisheet: Bendable Device for Browsing Content Using the Metaphor of Leafing Through the Pages. Trash your mouse. Jun-ichiro Watanabe presented a VERY promising interface (a book made of two thin plastic sheets and bend sensors) with which  a user can easily scroll digital content such as photos. The user  does so by simply bending one side of the sheet or the other.

Towards the Automated Social Analysis of Situated Speech Data. To automatically understand individual and group behavior, Danny Wyatt et al. recorded the coversational dynamics of 24 people over 6 months. They did so using privacy-sensitive techniques. By using this type of studies, researchers may well  gain broad sociological insights.

The Potential for Location-Aware Power ManagementRobert Harle showed how to dinamically optimize the energy consumption of an office. Very interesting problem-driven research!


Accessible Contextual Information for Urban Orientation
. Jason Stewart  presented a prototype of a location-based  service with which mobile users share content (see their project’s website)

Enhanced Shopping: A Dynamic Map in a Retail Store.  Alexander Meschtscherjakov  presented a prototype for mobile phones that displays  customer activities (e.g., customer flow) inside a shopping mall

Spyn: Augmenting Knitting to Support Storytelling and Reflection (pdf). Daniela K. Rosner‘s presentation was masterfully designed! She walked us through her expirience of designing Spyn – a system for knitters to record, playback, and share information involved in the creation of their hand-knit artifacts. She showed how her system enriches the knitter’s craft

Picture This! Film assembly using toy gestures. Cati Vaucelle (who keeps a cool blog) presented a new input device embedded in children’s toys for video composition.  As they play with the toys to act out a story, children conduct film assembly.

4. Datasets

Understanding Mobility Based on GPS Data by Yu Zheng et al. used GPS logs of 65 people over 10 months (the largest dataset in the community!) to evaluate a new way of  inferring people’s motion modes from their GPS logs

Accurate Activity Recognition in a Home Setting (pdf) by Tim van Kasteren et al. used 28 days of sensor data about one person @ home and corresponding annotations of his activities (e.g., toileting, showering, etc.) to evaluate a new method for recognizing activities from sensor data.

Discovery of Activity Patterns using Topic Models by Tam Huynh et al. used 16 days of sensor data from a man who was carrying  2 wearable sensors to test their method for automatically recognizing activities (e.g., dinner, commuting, lunch, office work) from sensor data.

On Using Existing Time-Use Study Data for Ubiquitous Compting Applications by Kurt Partridge and Philippe Golle how to use data (e.g. people’s activities and locations) that has been collected by governments and commercial institutions to evaluate ubicomp systems.

The Potential for Location-Aware Power Management by Rober Harletested on location data of 40 people in 50-room office building for 60 working days his proposed strategies for dinamically optimizing the energy consumption of an office.

(ubicomp2008)

Weaving a Web of Trust

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Jennifer wrote a piece (which is well worth reading) in Science Magazine: “Increasingly, people are studying social and collaborative Web technologies for use in science. However, issues such as privacy, confidentiality, and trust arise around the use of these technologies. Science is crucially based on knowing provenance–who produced what, how and where–and on the Web, trusting scientific information is becoming more difficult for both scientists and the general public. User-generated content, even from professionals, can be opinionated (both informed and uninformed), inaccurate, and deceiving.” More.

“Making Mobile Raters Stick to their Word ” @ Ubicomp

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In few hours I will present MobiRate. Fortunately, the slides are ready ! See them next. A short description follows.

P.S. I’ll blog about Ubicomp shortly. For now, look at the great coverage by Albrecht Schmidt  ;-)

MobiRate

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: trust systems)

Q&A Session (at the conference):

Q> You have shown that MobiRate effectively protects against *indepedent* malicious individuals. What if  malicious individuals collude?
A> Colluding malicious peole will not be able to tweak  ratings because they cannot produce fake crypto material. However, if malicious people collude, one may well run into updating problems. Phones update their ratings  while they move and, consequently, there are   time windows in which ratings are not up-to-date. During those time-windows, colluding people may succeed in attacking the communities they are in  (e.g., in flooding the system with spam content).

Q>  Phones that run MobiRate audit each other. Are their users aware of that?
A> We have assumed that, in downloading and running MobiRate, people silently agree with  the possibility of their phones being “auditors”. However, people should be able to step back and refuse to be auditors at times; for example, whenever they are running out of battery. This feature should be definetely
included in the next version of MobiRate.

Q> Your solution is general, in that, it is able to collect and store not only user ratings but also user activities!
True.  Instead of monitoring ratings, one could force people in keeping a record of their activities. Before deploying MobiRate, we should carefully think about its misuses and try to prevent them. A good starting point could be to understand how “historical misuses of technology can be studied to be avoided in the future” (link)

Short Description of MobiRate:

(more…)

Talks @ OII

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Two interesting upcoming events at the Oxfor Internet Institute:

  • 23 September: Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century (Tuesday , 11:00 – 12:00)
    by Vint Cerf! Chief Internet Evangelist for Google
  • 20 October: Making Sense of YouTube (Monday, 15:00 – 16:00)
    by Jean Burgess
    “This presentation reports on a recent study of YouTube that relied principally on a survey of 4300 of the most ‘popular’ videos… The analysis produced new knowledge about the extent of particular uses of the platform (such as vlogging, political commentary, or the ‘distribution’ of broadcast content); and the relationship between different modes of ‘audience’ engagement (commenting, responding, rating) and particular content genres. “

Solving Research Problems

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

There’s an interesting post on techcrunch based on a comment by Google’s Marissa Mayer, who apparently said that search is “90-95% solved.” Regardless of the context in which this comment was made, the post’s response is that the problem is not solved: it then outlines a number of areas where information retrieval has yet to succeed. However, (reminiscent of a short question that appeared in the panels of RecSys 2007) there are other questions to ask: when is ANY research question “solved?” What does it mean for a problem (like information retrieval or collaborative filtering) to be “solved?”

Thoughts?

Semantic- Social Networks

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Here is a very interesting talk (Slides+Audio) by Story Henry a researcher at Sun Microsystems interested in the Semantic Web and Social Networks.

Henry gave this presentation at JavaOne 2008, and at the Internet Identity Workshop and the Data Sharing Summit in Mountain View this May.

The slides cover data portability between Social Networks, linked data, foaf (Friend Of A Friend project), security in distributed social networks, OpenId, they demo a real semantic Address Book written in Java, explain how it works,  SPARQL (a query language for the semantic Web), introduce one to rules, and give some ideas as to what a semantic desktop will look like…

You can view it here:
http://blogs.sun.com/bblfish/entry/building_secure_and_distributed_social

Enjoy,

Sonia,

Future Directions of IR: Event in London

Friday, September 5th, 2008

From the Call for Participation:

The 2nd BCS-IRSG Symposium on Future Directions of Information Access
in conjunction with Search Solutions 2008

22nd and 23rd  of September 2008
London, UK

http://irsg.bcs.org/fdia2008

The FDIA symposium series aims to promote and encourage researchers in
the early stages of their careers within the field of Information
Retrieval. The symposium provides a unique platform for young researchers
to get together and discuss their research in a friendly environment and
learn more about the field and their peers.

At the first symposium held last year, the aim was to provide a forum
where future directions of information access can be presented and
discussed in an open and friendly environment. The focus of the 2nd
Symposium on Future Directions in Information Access will be to continue
this theme by dedicating an entire day to the discussion and promotion of
such research in a fun, entertaining and exciting way.

Why future directions, because we want to encourage submission that focus
on the early research such as pilot studies, presenting challenges and
future opportunities, conceptual and theoretical work, and the
contributions from doctoral work.

Why Information Access, because it captures the broader ideas of
information retrieval, storage and management to include interaction and
usage.

For the detailed program and how to register please visit the FDIA
website:

http://irsg.bcs.org/fdia2008

Google Map Maker

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I just read about this cool application from Google. The goal is to enable “[...] users everywhere to create rich, deep maps and fresh local data. People can mark their favorite spots in their cities and hometowns, add features such as roads, parks, and buildings, tag small businesses to help users find them, and collaborate to map neighborhoods of interest”.

While originally developed for countries like India, where infrastructure and local businesses are evolving at such a pace that good local maps are unavailable, it’s easy to see the potential such application may have, i.e., the creation of “[...] a new breed of local map experts who bring their passion for their neighborhoods and communities into the online world, adding to local commerce, tourism and investment”. Who will be the map experts? What knowledge will we share, with whom, and when? Very interesting …