This site has been archived on
Image

Information Access and Interfaces

Call closed 16 December 1997

Contribute towards
Intelligent IT handling for non-IT specialists

Image
Image Introduction Image Objective & Approach Image Rationale
Image Scope and Topics Image Organisation of work Image Other Themes & Initiatives
Image Events Image Powerpoint Presentation

Welcome to the new
Information Society Technologies Programme (IST)
Our new activities in the IST Programme:
Future & Emerging Technologies
Research, technology development and demonstration under the
EU's Fifth Framework Programme 1998 - 2002
contact us: (E-mail removed)

Image

INTRODUCTION

The information society is making vast information resources available to anyone, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Business competitiveness increasingly depends on timely access to the right information and on the capability to act upon it effectively and efficiently, while citizens will turn more and more to new electronic information and services for work, entertainment, and managing of everyday life.

Image

OBJECTIVE & APPROACH

The objective of Information Access and Interfaces (1) is the development and deployment of applications, systems, tools, and appliances that contribute towards:

intelligent information handling for non-IT specialists ,

focusing on three major challenges: mastering information overload; "naturally" interactive information interfaces; and novel tools or environments for "creating value" (see Scope & Topics) .

A "total system", integrated approach is to be a key feature of the projects selected: such an approach is necessary to meet the challenges industry and society face with respect to access and handling of information. The call is not prescriptive in terms of technologies, products, or applications; but proposers are encouraged to address in their proposals several strands of technology simultaneously with their integration. Therefore, the call encourages proposals which cut across the existing domains and tasks of the 1997 IT work-programme, responding to the need for multidisciplinary approaches to complex system development.

Strong emphasis will have to be placed on ambitious work with strong exploitation potential. Projects are expected to have precise goals, and demonstrate a clear vision supported by a plan for achieving it - including technical targets and plans for product/service positioning in future markets. Proposers should clearly show how their proposed work fits the context, objective, and challenges addressed by this theme on the one hand, and their own vision and business plan on the other. Preference will be given to RTD work that, if successful, would have a broad economic or societal impact.

(1) By "information" we understand both spatial (e.g. text, numerical) and time-based data (e.g. video, pictures, recordings) produced by companies, individuals, or communities. "Information access" is broadly meant to include the access, retrieval, use, storage, sharing, and creation of information and knowledge. Finally, by "interface" we mean the physical and/or virtual space at which interaction between users and the electronic world takes place. It is understood that the distinction between information access and interfaces is not clear-cut and the two are interlinked. Return to text

Image

RATIONALE

Convergence of computing, networking, and media creates new contexts, needs, and potential for interaction between users and information, and a rapid growth in information volume - including unstructured and audiovisual data. The huge volume of information, the diversity and complexity of applications, and the erosion of boundaries between information users and information producers or broadcasters, present great challenges in terms of usability, manageability, avoiding potential information overload.

There are three main dimensions to these problems. First, how users will find their way through the global information “ocean” to satisfy their needs reliably, securely and safely. Second, the interfaces that people will use to access, process, and interact with information. Third, how people can be supported in shaping the information medium and content to create value.

The usability, manageability, and interface issues must be tackled in a timely fashion. Unless information infrastructures, services and applications are truly attractive, accessible and usable, and not just by those who are "specialists", their take-up by consumers and companies will be constrained. The consequently depressed demand would slow down the growth of the information society in Europe. It would produce uneven development, lead to the exclusion of individuals that have a cultural, educational, or skill disadvantage, and so cause social and regional differences to be accentuated.

On the other hand, with electronic networks, the geographical position from which one accesses, uses or creates information becomes less important. Quality services and applications over networks thus have the potential of improving economic and social cohesion, with particular benefits for remote regions and SMEs currently operating at the regional level.

Some people argue that poor human interfaces will hinder access to the information society by the broad population. Interfaces to information systems, services and media are today profoundly non-intuitive. First, a user may typically have to penetrate a complex PC-based user interface to access a complex, non-intuitive application or service. This complexity and non-intuitiveness become a major barrier. Second, current systems do not offer such interaction capabilities that users may master the processes of information search, acquisition, and presentation, and also shape the medium itself and participate in information creation. We need new paradigms for interfaces characterised by simplicity, versatility, intuitiveness, adaptability, and elegance, and that support genuine interactivity with users.

For the corporate user, progress in interfaces is expected to be fast. Within a few years, a substantial number of enterprises would have uniform access to heterogeneous information through a simple, coherent interface that integrates multiple techniques. Agent technology and data mining should enter mainstream applications for active user support. And collaborative technology that helps users share ideas, space, and work processes should start to be incorporated into the enterprise organisational model.


Back to menu Esprit's "Information Access and Interfaces"

Image

SCOPE & TOPICS

Information Access and Interfaces is motivated by the vision of intelligent information handling through naturally interactive systems for non-IT specialists.

It is to focus work on:

In particular, the vision implies systems that are genuinely interactive - allowing users to customise the system according to their preferences, and to configure it so that it learns and adapts to individual user profiles. Interfaces that are intuitive, reducing the cognitive load on the user, are easy to use in various educational and cultural backgrounds and are likely to be context-specific and/or multi-modal.

The above should be considered in conjunction to the following requirements:

Challenges and topics

The call is not prescriptive in terms of technologies, products, or applications. The following list of topics is presented in the form of challenges that proposers should address. Technical topics are indicative . The list is neither exhaustive, nor should all the listed areas be necessarily tackled. Projects should however address, in a coherent fashion, all technical topics and issues that would be necessary for realising their objectives. The emphasis will be on an integrated and cross-disciplinary approach. Specific challenges are:

Managing information overload

Developing naturally interactive information interfaces


Enabling value creation by individuals or user communities

Information services over networks may be addressed when they integrate a range of the above technologies. They may include features such as customer orientation, service personnalisation, customer participation, and service brokerage. Reliability, security, privacy, and safety are also issues that need be considered as needed.

Image

ORGANISATION OF WORK

The very rapid pace of evolution in technology and markets, and ad hoc standardisation, makes it increasingly difficult to set precise technical or market objectives, even in the medium term. Proposers are asked to adopt an iterative, dynamic process for carrying out the R&D work, where there is dynamic interplay between users and suppliers and early feedback and experimentation on the basis of advance prototypes. Individual users should be included in this process, with strong attention paid to interaction design. Therefore, the technological targets, project workplan, and exploitation plans could be re-negotiated in the course of a project. The exploitation of intermediate results (spin-offs) while the project is still running is strongly encouraged.

Proposal preparation

Proposers should prepare their proposals in accordance with the structural recommendations and evaluation criteria given in section 3 of this Specific Information Document. The evaluation will be exclusively based on the criteria set out in section 3.3 of this Specific Information Package and will include assessment of the objectives and topics as stated in sections Objective & Approach and Scope & Topics . All the necessary administration forms required to submit a proposal are provided in the accompanying annexes or available on diskettes. Proposers are invited to contact the Commission, at the coordinates given in Chapter 5 , in order to consult on the procedures or the suitability of a potential proposal with respect to the scope and objectives of the "Information Access and Interfaces" Theme.

Project Follow-up

Synergies between projects launched as a result of this thematic call will be exploited as much as is practical. Common theme workshops or reviews and the exchange of information between projects will be encouraged where it is perceived that added value will arise from such interaction.

The Commission could financially support any support measures, such as industrial working groups, which can be proposed through the Programme’s standard continuous submission procedures, insofar as they contribute to the implementation of the above directions.

Image

LINKS TO OTHER THEMES & INITIATIVES

Image

EVENTS

Image

Powerpoint Presentation on
Information Access and Interfaces

Presentation made at the Esprit’s Information Day on 29 September 1997.
This Presentation is available for downloading as zipped PowerPoint file.
You can download the necessary tools to decompress or view the file.
Click here to download the file: Information Access and Interfaces

Image
Welcome to the new
Information Society Technologies Programme (IST)
Our new activities in the IST Programme:
Future & Emerging Technologies
Research, technology development and demonstration under the
EU's Fifth Framework Programme 1998 - 2002
contact us: (E-mail removed)

Image The URL of this page is /esprit/src/interfac.htm
It was last updated on 29 June 99, and is maintained by (E-mail removed)

DCSIMG