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Research Demonstrates Potential for Web to Become More Personalized and Automated

Fri, 11/05/2010 - 7:18am
An IBM-led team of researchers has mapped out a smarter, more intuitive version of the Internet - one you can assign tasks to make your life easier, such as ordering taxis, managing social engagements or even paying bills.

The research was released at the 20th annual CASCON, a software and computing conference showcasing research by IBM Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) in collaboration with academic and government research organizations. Representatives from IBM, Queen's University, the University of Victoria, the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto and University of Maryland Baltimore County outlined the results of their Smart Internet research project.

As the world becomes more instrumented and interconnected, and cloud services and analytics become more advanced, the Internet will be able to automatically pull together data and services from a variety of online sources and integrate them in a way that provides context, and which can be used more easily, researchers said.

For example, the project work, which started in 2009, has determined how future iterations of the Internet will enable users to arrange to have taxis to and from the airport automatically ordered whenever they book a flight, and automatically notified if flights are delayed, or link RSVPs on a Facebook invitation with the reservation system at their favourite restaurant, to automatically reserve a table for the exact number of guests who accept.

"The project illustrated how the Internet will move beyond the present paradigm where people are responsible for the initiating and managing their own manual navigation of the Web, to a 'personalized Web,' functioning as a platform of services and resources that are dynamically and automatically configured to suit each person's individual goals, tasks and concerns, in a way that person wants," says Joanna Ng, master inventor and head of research at IBM's Center for Advanced Studies.

Currently, a function such paying bills requires you be aware when bills are due and proactively initiate a payment transaction by visiting one, or more URLs. More often than not, this involves repeating many decisions that are the same or similar to decisions made in previous service requests - say last month, when the same bill was due.

The smarter Internet will know when bills are due, and on those dates, log on to your online bank account, process a payment, and even transfer additional funds to prevent overdraft - a series of events set in motion by your one-click "yes" response to an automatically generated question, "Do you want to pay this bill now?"

The research team has also determined how to integrate a behind-the-scene enabler to deliver information and services in way users want, and how to do that when it is most relevant and appropriate to the user's task at hand or situation.

"If, for example, I'm a physician and use text alerts, a smart Internet would inform me only of messages that are emergencies or of immediate relevance to the patient I am attending to, until I am free. I don't want to receive notifications about a sale on sporting goods while I'm with a patient!" explains Jim Cordy, Queen's University professor.

Future research efforts will focus on commercialization of the technologies that support the smart Internet, and other scientific advancements to transform it into a ubiquitous tool that support people's needs in a timely and personalized way, while still allowing them to maintain appropriate control over the tasks themselves.

                                 
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