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Intelligent Information Interfaces (i3)

The Intelligent Information Interfaces (i3-pronounced eye-cubed) initiative on future interfaces to information is being launched on 15 September by ESPRIT, the European Commission's information technologies programme, with a budget of ECU 25 million. The aim of the "i3" init...

The Intelligent Information Interfaces (i3-pronounced eye-cubed) initiative on future interfaces to information is being launched on 15 September by ESPRIT, the European Commission's information technologies programme, with a budget of ECU 25 million. The aim of the "i3" initiative is to make interaction with information an effortless task for the broad population of non-specialist users. It is a response to the rapidly growing volume of information being made available in our information society, for which effective access and management is still difficult and time-consuming. The initiative centres around research on future "intelligent information interfaces" that will enable people to communicate with others in new ways, participate in entertainment, access data-banks and utilize information services. The "intelligence" of the interfaces will lie in their natural and intuitive usability, their flexibility in spanning across different devices, applications and media and their active role in providing helpful services that empower the citizen. To provide such interfaces, new human-centred paradigms are needed - ones that will not depend on fixed concepts such as "computer", "television" or "telephone", but which will open up new ways of interacting with information; ways that will be personal or social, offering truly distributed interfaces to information for anybody, anywhere. The "I3" initiative aims to tackle these issues and is broadly defined by five themes that describe the principal characteristics of interfaces to be considered. These are: - Aimed at the broad population; - Intuitive to use; - Independent of location; - Flexible and interoperable; - Empowerment of the citizen. To ensure a sufficiently coordinated and competitive effort, the initiative will first solicit "schemas" that will act as master-plans for groupings of projects. A small number of these schemas will be selected following an open call for proposals launched on 15 September 1995. Each schema will address the above themes, choosing a particular aspect of them. In its description, a schema will plan a tightly knit yet flexible framework for a number of independent and coordinated tasks. These tasks will then be open to competitive bidding through open calls for projects. The "i3" initiative will thus evolve in two stages: - An open call for schema proposals, from which a small number will be selected. This will be published on 15 September 1995. The selected schema proposals will then be refined and finalized in agreement with the Commission; - Open calls for projects and other actions to carry out the tasks described by the schemas (probably in the first half of 1996). Schemas will be expected to encourage a dynamic balance of project autonomy, inter-project cooperation and competition. They should be open to interdisciplinary contributions from domains such as technology, design, human-factors and the arts. They should take account of world wide developments, involving cooperation beyond Europe, where appropriate. It is hoped that using the approaches set out by this initiative will enable European research efforts to make a considerable impact on the future market for human-information related products.