The HIPS project aims at developing new interaction paradigms for navigating physical spaces. The objective of the project is to enrich the "user experience" of a city by overlapping a further dimension with the physical space: contextual and personalised information on the human environment The main issue of this project is therefore to allow people to navigate both a physical space and a related information space at the same time, with a minimal gap between the two. This will make it possible to take advantage of an extensive electronic database about a place, while carrying out everyday working or leisure activities without being dependent on a desktop terminal or any kind of classic information system.
The community addressed by HIPS is the community of tourists. Tourists are not a community in the traditional sense, given their geographic dispersion, however they share common needs and interests (enough indeed to bring them to the same museum or city). Local citizens, a significant part of all museum visits, are a community by definition but their sense of participation can be enhanced by sharing their knowledge with others. Technology can already be used to connect these communities by exploiting the global reach of the internet, for example through human-human radiocommunication or web pages with travel tips and visit reports. HIPS can be used to do much more. Exploiting the user-model it can learn new and more effective stereotypes; it can deduce new semantic relations between objects by analysing the interactions with its users. In such a way all individual experiences can indirectly affect future visits not by directly addressing other users but by augmenting the knowledge of the community itself.
We envisage an electronic tour guide (to exhibitions, museums, archaeological sites, exposition distributed over a city and to citiesthemselves) that will empower visitors to determine themselves the structure of a tour, according to their own criteria and needs. The system is expected to guide the visitor and provide information by means of audio messages: the user can get instructions for finding items of interest, hear descriptions with references to items seen earlier and to ones that will follow, ask for additional information and receive suggestions on alternative routes.
HIPS will not be just a system for distributing information, but also a means of creating and entering information and knowledge. A record of different journeys, enriched with comments, annotations, preferences etc. will be possible. This could greatly simplify the creation of new tours by experts but also allow the creation of a log for ordinary citizens' perspectives of, say, their street or area. For example Hips might allow a historian to walk around a city entering a voice commentary, sketches. and annotations that would then be available as a guided tour to any other user. The sharing of experience will be an important aspect of the project. HIPS will envision the use of organisational memories, a sort of knowledge warehouse where the information management strategies that are appropriate for individuals break down in a shared information repository. This repository should capture and distribute the knowledge produced during the tourist's activity, making it available to other users of the community. In this way the experience made by a user, can be shared within the community and added and modified by other similar experiences. HIPS will demonstrate a new dimension of cultural fruition supported by technology:
Notes about a visit will be automatically provided by the system (e. g. a summary) or deliberately left by the visitor (e.g. a message) for subsequent fruition both by the visitor himself, by other individuals and by the community as a whole. On one side, the visit experience will become one element that the tourists can integrate in their own cultural experience (e.g. through summaries enriched with links to additional relevant information to be explored later). On the other side, each individual experience will provide material that can be used:
Although the features of the final demonstrator will be agreed upon during the project, a strong emphasis will be put on the easiness and transparency in accessing the desired information (through adaptivity, physical localisation, connectivity with local and remote multimedia databases), and on the aspects of bidirectionality (user-to-user and user-to-system communication) and the relationship between tourists' and local community.
Prof. Giuliano Benelli
dipartimento di ingegneria dell'informazioneUniversità degli Studi di Siena
Via Roma 56
I - 53100 Siena
e-mail: (E-mail removed)
22 July 97
Duration: 36 months
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