Archive for the ‘industry’ Category

Online Applications

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Although in these posts we tend to focus on the research aspect of trust, social networking, recommender systems, and mobile applications, it is always interesting to keep an eye on what is going on in the “real” world – what is drawing the investment and attention of entrepreneurs.

Recommender Systems: the list is near-infinite now (and is proportional to the problem of data portability?), and everyone knows about the Amazons and Last.fms. However there are a number of names appearing that merge recommendations with social interactions – away from neat algorithms and towards human-driven reviews and recommendations. Names like Reevoo, Boxedup, LouderVoice, Crowdstorm, and RecommendBox.

Location-based Services: Although there are a wide range of potential applications for mobile phones, many of the early names seem to be focusing on mobile social networking. Sites like Imity, Mobiluck, Loopt, Hyphen-8, and MeetMoi. Some of them use bluetooth, others only require their users to SMS their location. One day the “familiar stranger” will not be a stranger for long!

Researching new mobile applications

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

“With the new iPhone SDK, it’s just a matter of time before we see a wave of new Web 2.0 applications.” Here are 12 Future Apps For Your iPhone (which may well inspire our  research agenda):

1. Reality Tagging
2. People Tagging
3. Reality Recognition
4. Physical Social Networks
5. Personalized Travel Guides
6. Digital and Physical Treasure Hunt
7. Distributed Mobile Games
8. Credit Card and Biometrics as Software
9. Paperless Receipts & Digital Business Cards
10. Medical records as Software
11. Physical Browsing & Digital Shopping
12. Location/time-based deals

Filtering spam depending on your reputation (on the amount of spam you typically receive)

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Abaca has recently proposed an effective way of filtering spam emails. It is called receiver reputation.

It relies on this fact
One can group receivers by the amount of spam they receive on a daily basis. Say we consider 5 groups. “People in Group 1 receive, on average, 90% spam. Group 2 receives 70% spam, Group 3 receives 50% spam, Group 4 receives 30% spam, and Group 5 receives 10% spam.”

How it works
Messages are classified whether they are spam or not depending on the receiver of the message, “rather than where the message is FROM or what it CONTAINS“. “Essentially, if the message is sent to users who typically receive a high percentage of spam, the message is more likely to be spam. However, if the message is sent to users who typically receive a low percentage of spam, the message is more likely to be legitimate. Combining the reputations of all recipients of a particular message, therefore, is equivalent to combining those users’ rating power to estimate the legitimacy of the sender and the message”

What about new users?
“The system can be bootstrapped from an empty database with just 2 users (someone who gets a lot of spam and someone who gets a lot of ham). … The system was initially seeded with just two users: a person who receives virtually all spam and a person who receives virtually all legitimate mail. The statistics of a third user was then approximated using the ratings established by the first two users. The fourth user was added with that user’s statistics approximated by the first three users, etc.”
“The amazing thing is no human is required to read or rate any email; the system gets smarter on it’s own without any human intervention”

Crowdsourcing traffic information

Friday, November 16th, 2007

“You’re sitting in a traffic jam, late for a meeting, watching the estimated time of arrival on your satnav’s display creep later and later as it takes account of the fact that, right now, you’re not going anywhere. Do you cancel, try another route, or wait it out?

TomTom, the Dutch maker of navigation devices, is claiming to put an end to this kind of dilemma with a new service it launched today in the Netherlands, dubbed High Definition Traffic. It tracks the paths of about 4 million Vodafone mobile phone users to expand the amount of traffic information available“. More on FT’s tech blog.

Sillicon Valley and Japan Come to London

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Upcoming events posted by UCL Enterprise Society include: 
. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science – Short Term Awards

Mobile Monday London

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Mobile Monday London 8th Oct at Centre Point.


Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Claudio (from IIIA and sponsored by MyStrands) gave a very interesting talk about poolcasting (pdf of his slides). Poolcasting is a web radio in which individuals may join different channels. Those subscribed to a channel will listen to the same stream of songs. The problem is how to select the songs on that stream. Claudio did so by combining the preferences of a channel´s listeners using Case-Based Reasoning.

The same approach may be used for mobile music. A bar may decide to play songs depending on the preferences of its customers (and preferences may be elicited from the playlists that customers store on their mp3 players or mobile phones).

A couple of questions that might be of interest to some of us: what if listeners do not share many songs in their playlists? Would it be possible to factor listeners´ reputation (trust) in deciding which songs to play?

Mobile Music

Friday, August 17th, 2007

I was at Mobiquitous 2007 in Philadelphia last week.
Some of the papers were focused on music and its applicability to mobile devices:
Musicology: Bringing Personal Music into Shared Spaces,
Content Source Selection in Bluetooth Networks (my paper).
This is an interesting area of development and, I believe, important for the realisation of large scale market penetration of networked mobile devices.
I’m sure most of you are aware of online digital media stores, such as the iTunes Store and Napster.
Most of these stores employ Digital Rights Management (DRM) to limit the sharing and playback of the purchased tracks, though not all sites are so restrictive (Emusic).
Apparently, Apple barely makes money from their store, and use it as a driver for their iPod device range. The iPhone automatically synchronises with your computer’s media collection whenever it is connected. Ensuring you are always walking around with your most up to date data.
Other mobile device manufacturers are now trying to make use of these loyalty inducing services, Nokia making MOSH and possibly its own store. Sony Ericsson has the rather silly named m-buzz and its Playnow service. Even companies that don’t manufacture devices are focusing on the mobile music shop market, such as RoK.

This combination of digital media stores and mobile devices shows an awareness by companies about people’s usage of digital media on the go, and its attraction.
Not just to improve the user experience, but also to try and lock them in to their particular device/network provider. This is achieved not only through the inertia caused by familiarity of the particular shop, but also the format the music is supplied in. Including both the actual music encoding (WMV is Microsoft’s, RealAudio) or the DRM container (FairPlay/PlaysForSure/Helix DRM). Leading to consumers only being able to use some devices with their music collection, and equally only purchase material from shops that their device supports.

The adoption of digital music sales as an added part of the mobile device ecosystem demonstrates people are willing to pay for digital media, especially on their mobile devices.
Interestingly, the low margins on this service has caused it to often be a value added feature rather than a profitable venture in its own right.
The renegotiation of terms by Universal may lower the distribution margins even more.
The posibility of direct sales of music tracks by artists, without the labels acting as middlemen, may increase the profits for content produers and distributers, making it a viable option in future. The unpopularity of DRM, is causing new developments a such as watermarking and charging a premium for the lack of it, will hopefully stimulate the market further.

Mobile Web 2.0 in London

Friday, July 27th, 2007

The first European conference on Mobile Web 2.0 will be in London (!) on the 18th and 19th of September. It will gather some of the best thinkers and doers. Agenda. More info here.

Mobile Social Shopping

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

The Utiforo project that some of us here are involved in (see previous posts) is sub-titled “pervasive computing support for market trading;” the broad goal of the project is to bridge the gap between online and offline commerce by researching the applicability of trust to this scenario. One of the sub-goals of our partners at Sussex is to develop a navigation kiosk application, to capture user policies as they roam shopping centres.

However, I’ve read a couple recent articles that show that commercial applications are most likely one step ahead: Wishpot, for example, allows users to upload and share items of interest (via mobile phone text messages or photographs) to their online profile. They can then use their profile, along with various social-network features, to research prices, view user-ratings, and receive recommendations. Other commercial applications include Kaboodle, Stylehive, Zlio, and MyPickList. One site even quoted that these services will bring about the end of impulse buying (by allowing users quick access to price comparisons and product quality assessments)!

MobileMonday in BCN: Mobile Web 2.0

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Yesterday I was at the MobileMonday Barcelona event. Three speakers talked about ‘Mobile Web 2.0′:

Patrick Lord introduced his company’s main application – MobiLuck. It’s a short range wireless messaging application. MobiLuck allows you to detect all Bluetooth devices around you and to store a mini-profile in your Bluetooth name. The mini-profile can include for example your nickname, gender, age and phone number (dating profile) or your first name, last name, company and phone number (business profile). Your mini-profile is detected instantly by other MobiLuck users. You can then send a message (or your picture or your business card) with your mobile in a few clicks, for free, with no need of the recipient’s phone number.

Lucia Garate (of Vodafone R&D, Madrid) presented Vodafone Betavine that aims to help developers create new and innovative services using mobile communications APIs.

Ajit Jaokar (London) listed some of the concepts behind its latest book (Mobile 2.0).

Similar events are offered in London.

MObilize and SHare (Mosh) by Nokia

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Nokia enters Social Sharing World with Mosh. MOSH is a content sharing site where community members upload, distribute and manage content to be viewed and enjoyed on mobile devices. With MOSH, anything from applications like mobile games, to videos, blogs, songs or photos are now accessible and distributable on your mobile device.

There are three key elements to MOSH:
1. A website
2. A mobile website
3. An application for mobile devices (available for download on Nokia devices only)

The website is your main source for accessing the wide range of content available through MOSH. It is here where you can create your profile, upload content, manage your collections and specify which selects to send to your mobile device as mobile feeds.

Privacy in Ubicomp: Devices that Tell on You

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

At USENIX Security, a paper will show how three consumer devices leak personal information.

We analyze three new consumer electronic gadgets in order to gauge the privacy and security trends in mass-market UbiComp devices. Our study of the Slingbox Pro uncovers a new information leakage vector for encrypted streaming multimedia. By exploiting properties of variable bitrate encoding schemes, we show that a passive adversary can determine with high probability the movie that a user is watching via her Slingbox, even when the Slingbox uses encryption. We experimentally evaluated our method against a database of over 100 hours of network traces for 26 distinct movies.
Despite an opportunity to provide significantly more location privacy than existing devices, like RFIDs, we find that an attacker can trivially exploit the Nike+iPod Sport Kit’s design to track users; we demonstrate this with a GoogleMaps-based distributed surveillance system. We also uncover security issues with the way Microsoft Zunes manage their social relationships.
We show how these products’ designers could have significantly raised the bar against some of our attacks. We also use some of our attacks to motivate fundamental security and privacy challenges for future UbiComp devices.

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.

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)