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AIC Seminar Series

SmartWeb: Multimodal Web Services on the Road

Wolfgang WahlsterDKFI[Home Page]

Notice:  hosted by Ray Perrault

Date:  Wednesday, October 3rd 2007 at 4:00pm

Location:  EJ228 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


SmartWeb provides a context-aware user interface to web services, so that it can support the mobile user in different roles, e.g. as a car driver, a motorbiker, or a pedestrian. It provides a symmetric multimodal dialogue system combining speech, gesture, haptic and video input with speech, haptic, video and acoustic output. It goes beyond traditional keyword search engines like Google by delivering higher quality results that are adapted to the mobile user’s current task and situation. In mobile situations, users don’t want to deal with hypertext lists of retrieved web pages, but simply want an answer to their query. If a desperate driver with a crying and acutely ill child on the backseat asks SmartWeb “Who is the closest paediatrician?” he needs just the name and address of the doctor. Based on SmartWeb’s ability to combine various web services, the driver can then ask SmartWeb a follow-up question about route guidance to the doctor’s practice. One of the innovative features of SmartWeb is that the user can specify whether he wants a textual or pictorial answer, a video clip or a sound file as a query result.

SmartWeb provides not only an open-domain question answering machine but a multimodal web service interface for coherent dialogue, where questions and commands are interpreted according to the context of the previous conversation. For example, if the driver of our Mercedes-Benz R-Class test car asks SmartWeb “Where is the closest Italian restaurant”, it will access a web service to find an appropriate restaurant and show its location on a digital map presented on the large dashboard display. The user may continue his dialog with a command like “Please guide me there with a refueling stop at the lowest price gas station.” In this case, SmartWeb combines a navigation service with a special web service that finds low gas prices. SmartWeb includes plan-based composition methods for semantic web services, so that complex tasks can be carried out for the mobile user.

One version of SmartWeb has been deployed on a BMW motor-bike R1200RT, using a swivel with force feedback integrated in the handle bar. Similar to the control knob known from the iDrive interface of BMW automobiles, the biker can rotate the swivel or push it right or left in order to browse through menus or select items displayed by SmartWeb on the large high-resolution screen in the middle of the cockpit. In combination with these pointing actions, the biker can use speech input over the microphone integrated in a Bluetooth helmet to interact with SmartWeb. The multimodal dialogue system combines visual displays with speech and earcons over the speakers integrated in the helmet and haptic force feedback for output generation. For example, the biker can ask for weather forecasts along his planned route. SmartWeb accesses location-based web services via the bike’s 3G wireless connection to retrieve the relevant weather forecasts. In addition, SmartWeb exploits ad-hoc Wifi connections for vehicle-to-vehicle communication based on a local danger warning ontology so that the motorbike driver can be informed of a danger ahead by a car in front of him. For example, a car detecting a large wedge of water under its wheels will pass the information wirelessly to the bike following it and SmartWeb will generate the warning “Attention! Risk of aquaplaning 100 meters ahead” using the GPS coordinates of both vehicles to compute the distance to the upcoming dangerous area. Another distinguishing feature of SmartWeb is the generation of adaptive multimodal presentations taking into account the predicted cognitive load of the biker depending on the driving speed and other factors.

   Bio for Wolfgang Wahlster

Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster is the Director and CEO of DFKI, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and a Professor of Computer Science and Computational Linguistics at Saarland University (Saarbrücken, Germany). Founded in 1988, DFKI today is the world’s largest contract research institute with in the field of innovative software technology based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods with more than 400 researchers working for DFKI’s industrial shareholders BWM, DaimlerChrysler, EADS, SAP, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom and Bertelsmann. Professor Wahlster received his diploma and doctoral degree (1981) in Computer Science from the University of Hamburg, Germany. He has published more than 180 technical papers and 8 books on intelligent multimodal user interfaces. His current research includes multimodal and tangible user interfaces, mobile multimedia interfaces for Car2X systems, user modeling, ambient intelligence, embodied conversational agents, and mobile access to semantic web services. Wahlster has received numerous honors and awards for his research contributions. He is an AAAI Fellow (elected in 1993), an ECCAI Fellow (since 1999), and a GI Fellow (since 2004). In 2001, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany presented the German Future Prize to Professor Wahlster for his work on language technology and intelligent user interfaces. He was the first computer scientist to receive Germany’s highest scientific prize that is awarded each year for outstanding innovations in technology, engineering, or the natural sciences. He was the first German computer scientist elected Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Nobel Prize Academy of Sciences, Stockholm in 2003. Currently, he is serving as the chief scientific advisor of the German government for IT in the framework of the national high-tech funding strategy.

   Note for Visitors to SRI

Please arrive at least 10 minutes early as you will need to sign in by following instructions by the lobby phone at Building E (or call Wilma Lenz at 650 859 4904, or Eunice Tseng at 650 859 2799). SRI is located at 333 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park. Visitors may park in the parking lots off Fourth Street. Detailed directions to SRI, as well as maps, are available from the Visiting AIC web page. There are two entrances to SRI International located on Ravenswood Ave. Please check the Building E entrance signage.

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