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What are Adaptive Information Technologies?

As computing becomes more pervasive and ubiquitous a major new research effort is required to develop adaptive information technologies that automatically evolve to meet the diverse needs of users, devices, and content in changing contexts. In the timescale 2004-2010, three major changes will occur in ICT:

Pervasiveness of powerful, networked computing devices:

Existing devices will become more integrated (e.g., mobile phones integrated with audio players and digital video cameras) and new sensor devices will become more pervasive (e.g., positioning, biometric and environmental sensors). All of these devices will have greater processing power and storage capacity requiring new policies for communication over heterogeneous, mobile networks. For instance, advances in microelectronics will soon allow sensor networks of embedded, low-cost, low-power consuming chips with integrated sensing, signal processing and wireless communications capabilities. New physical, chemical, and digital sensors will be embedded in familiar physical objects in our homes, our clothes and even our bodies. In time, the environment will be saturated with millions of these devices organized into adaptive sensor networks using evolving cellular systems.

Proliferation of Information:

The emergence of these new, more powerful devices will lead to the production and processing of even larger amounts of information. This information will manifest itself in many media, formats and standards (e.g., audio, video, image-based, sensor data, text, XML, MPEG7). The sheer quantity of this raw data will require new methods for its automated analysis into more contentful forms; for instance, to turn text into XML, to analyse video/audio for content, to re-cast sensor data in mark-up languages. The sheer diversity in standards will require new methods for handling this electronic babel. In short, there will be new content extraction technologies.

Information Utilization:

ICT advances will be halted by the problem of information overload if all of this information is not better used. New software systems must be capable of delivering the right information to the right user in the right way at the right time. Information about the user, context and device will be used to adapt system behaviour to changing conditions of service (e.g., in transportation, security, entertainment, healthcare, education). New software systems will need to personalise the delivery/access of information so that both individuals and groups see information in ways that best support their individual or collaborative goals . This will involve a step beyond the current state of the art in user profiling and personalization techniques to allow adaptive utilization.

These developments will require new information and communication technologies; which we term, Adaptive Information Technologies.

AIC will focus on these three basic research areas, led by its expert senior researchers:

  • Adaptive Sensor Networks that adapt to their environment to optimize their communicative effectiveness and useful life;

  • Content Extraction: software systems that adaptively extract and assemble meaningful content from diverse media (e.g. text, video, audio);

  • Adaptive Utilization: Software that adapts to user needs and personalizes content for users.

Adaptive Information

The core concept of our Centre is being "Adaptive". One of the key shortfalls of current ICT systems is their low adaptability, their brittleness in the face of changing conditions in the world or in users. For instance, when a software package is released it provides essentially the same functionality to every user, and continues to provide that functionality day-in-day-out until the next upgrade is purchased. Even sensors need to be more adaptable to respond to wider environmental conditions; some state-of-the-art pacemakers have sensors that detect motion to increase heart rate during exercise, but they also increase heart rate when their wearer is on a moving train. While all ICT systems have some level of adaptability, we aim to make high adaptability a core property of all ICT systems, to create a new generation of Adaptive Information Technologies.

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