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Adaptive and adaptable interactions for multimedia telecommunications applIcations

Objective

The main objective of the project is to demonstrate that it is possible to develop generic multimedia telecommunications applications, which are adaptable and adaptive to the requirements of most potential users (including e.g. disabled people, elderly people, occasional users, professionals), in terms of networks and terminals, information content and human-computer interface.
Practical testing is foreseen in field trials of applications of important social impact and potential commercial value (services for citizens and tourists, in terms of information support to mobility of people on a territory).
Results already achieved by the project are the following:
Collection of detailed data about information needs on mobility, access problems and usable media of selected user groups;
Selection and adaptation of telecommunications environments for the trials in Italy and Finland (including at least one broadband transport facility), assuring interoperability;
Development of concepts and system components (multimedia document structure, content model of information, central user model), as a foundation for the introduction of adaptability and adaptivity to the needs of individual users, at the level of both content and presentation of information and the human-computer interface;
Implementation of adaptable and adaptive representations of information and human-computer interfaces, as a function of the user and telecommunications link;
Moreover, the expected achievements from the project are listed below:
Integration of a set of adaptations of information and terminal interfaces in specific applications running on the telecommunications infrastructure to be used for the validation of the technical approaches and for field trials;
Execution of field trials in Italy and Finland, including different user groups and test sites, for testing the usability of the implemented application and its relevance;
Evaluation of the application from the user's perspective;
Dissemination of the concepts and results obtained in the project;
Exploitation plans in order to introduce the project results in real operative environments.
Expected Impact
Improvement in the working and living conditions of disabled and elderly people by reducing barriers to information access;
Increase in service effectiveness and integration of existing databases through the production of multimedia documents and the introduction of adaptability and adaptivity concepts;
Increase in the quality of information; "right" information to different users in terms of information content and presentation;
Transparent access to geographically distributed databases through a scaleable set of network facilities;
Automatic user interface adaptability at design time and adaptivity at run-time.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
A common multimedia system interface was developed, suitable for different network architectures and broadband infrastructures through the realisation of trials involving end users, covering a broad range of citizens, including people with special needs.
Contribution to the programme
AVANTI demonstrated that it is feasible and useful to employ the concepts of adaptability and adaptability in system development to cater different user needs both at the user interface and at the content level.
Technical Approach
The project's approach is to demonstrate transparent access to a variety of databases (textual and/or multimedia), some of which are already available or are under development, using a selection of terminals (from text terminals to multimedia terminals) and network facilities (from narrowband to broadband connections). This implies real-time integration and adaptation of information to be transferred as a function of the user abilities and preferences, the available telecommunication infrastructure and terminal. The adaptation at the information content and user interface level is carried out by the concepts of adaptability and adaptivity. Adaptability focuses on the notion of the automatic provision of various presentations with different interaction characteristics, based on knowledge about user needs, abilities and preferences. Adaptivity refers to the ability of adaptive software applications to dynamically modify the dialogue characteristics during user-terminal, user-network and user-application interaction, according to the user behaviour.
Validation is considered an integral part of the project, which aims to test in a real environment selected aspects which are crucial for usability of the system (e.g. the user interface), usefulness of the service (e.g. quality of information), impact on the real mobility capabilities of addressed end users (e.g. motor impaired people).
Three main steps have been identified:
identification of user requirements and service functionalities;
design and adaptation of communication and information applications;
integration of the system, experimentation and validation of the application.

The testing with end users is carried out by:
two field trials (in Siena and Finland);
laboratory trials (in Italy and Greece);
a field demonstration (in Rome).

The latter experiment aims to demonstrate the system to be implemented for the Year 2000 Jubilee in Rome.
Summary of Trial
The project foresees two field trials, respectively located in Siena and in Finland, and a demonstration in Rome.
Both field trials are realised on existing network facilities, mainly provided by the National Hosts of the two countries.
The field trial in Italy mainly addresses motor disabled people with information about accessibility of the territory. The broadband access to the system is assured by sites located on the Tuscany MAN (Siena and Florence sub-networks). Both sub-networks are based on a 140 Mpbs backbone, and are connected through a 34 Mbps link; the sites involved in the trial are provided with 2 and 34 Mbps accesses. Access to the system by the PSTN is tested as well in order to take into account different network capabilities.
In the Finnish field trial the testing is carried out with occasional able-bodied and professional users. The application mainly regards information about mobility, entertainment and accommodation facilities at a city level. The trials employs the sites of Kuusamo and Helsinki, where ATM connections are available to the Finnish Host; each site is connected to a 4 Mbps access. The narrowband access to the application is tested through the public N-ISDN service.
Key Issues
User needs elicitation, both in terms of data content and presentation.
Selection and adaptation of telecommunications facilities and terminals.
Development of software modules that allow for adaptability and adaptivity at the information content and at the user interface level.
Integration and functional testing of the entire system.
Field trials in Italy and Finland and assessment of the application.
Dissemination and exploitation activities, particularly in the Jubilee perspective.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Alcatel Siette
Address
Piazzale Lucchese 33
50019 Sesto Fiorentino
Italy

Participants (13)

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)
Italy
Address
Via Panciatichi 64
50127 Firenze
Engineering Contractors Group Srl
Italy
Address
Piazza San Gregorio 2
00184 Celio Roma
Eurogiciel Multimedia
France
FORTH
Greece
Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung mbH
Germany
Address
Schloß Birlinghoven
53757 Sankt Augustin
MA Systems and Control Ltd
United Kingdom
Mathema Srl
Italy
Address
Via Torcicoda 29
50142 Firenze
Studio Adr
Italy
Teco
Italy
Telecom Italia SpA
Italy
Address
Via S. Dalmazzo 15
10122 Torino
UNIVERSITY OF LINZ
Austria
Address
Altenbergerstr. 69
Università di Siena
Italy
VTT Information Technology
Finland