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A hand-held assistant for electronic guided tourism

Objective

E-Tour will develop a value-added service providing mobile access to a multimedia integration of the tourist information. The information will be presented to the tourist through a handheld device connected to Tourist Information Systems through the Internet. The device will be composed of a handheld computer enhanced with add-ons suitable for tourism. IT can provide important benefits to tourists in terms of services and information only if the interaction between the tourist and the computer will be developed according to ergonomic, user needs and acceptance criteria. E-Tour will exploit and provide open source interoperability modules to contribute to the consolidation on the European Information System. A clever diffusion of tourist information will also draw to a better utilisation of the human and material resources and to the enhancement of the European cultural patrimony.

Objectives:
The main objectives are: to develop, according to user-centric design criteria, a HMI able to convey easy to exploit powerful information and services to tourist; to develop a technical architecture that provides positioning/communication/voice facilities and is open to incremental development; to develop and/or integrate the hardware/software components of the Tourist Digital Assistant (TDA); to prepare a software toolkit for developing new HMI structures for tourist applications; to prepare multimedia information for the involved tourist areas, to prepare software modules for tourists services; to prepare format translation modules for interoperability with European Tourist Information Systems; to perform field tests of the prototypes, evaluating users' acceptance, verifying logistic issues and elaborating information about tourists' behaviour patterns.

Work description:
The first step of the work will consist in the field test of TDA "alpha" prototypes in various test areas (e.g. cities, museums, regional areas) and in interviews to administrators/managers in order to evaluate their degree of acceptance of the new information instrument. A statistical and sociological analysis plan will be prepared for studying the results of this initial investigation phase. The evaluation of the tourists' needs and of the experts' opinions will provide useful information for the business development area strategy. In parallel, the basic technical components will be defined according to behavioural specifications and subsequently developed according to cost/performance and strategic considerations (phase 2). The feedback on users' acceptance will drive the HMI design, aimed at harmonising the presentation of multimedia contents. The development phase will end with the integration of the hardware/software modules. Specific tourist services (travel, weather, booking, payment etc.) will be implemented. Modules aimed at providing personalised services will be studied and implemented. Open distributed databases will be prepared for the management of the information. Interoperability modules will be developed and provided as open source for integrating the information/services developed for E-Tour in the broader European tourist information network. To this end the advantages of the JINI technology will be exploited. The third phase consists in the deployment of the prototypes in the tourist areas selected by the partners. The deployment will be realised according to a pilot plan that will define the logistical and technical infrastructure. Data of various types will be collected, possibly from existing databases, in order to build local tourist information systems that can be exploited by the TDA. The analysis of the deployment's results will give important feedback on logistic issues and on the acceptance of the service.

Milestones:
Technical component specifications (month 4);
Guidelines for User Needs and Business Development Strategy (month 6);
"Beta" prototype presentation (month 10);
TIS Review (month 10);
First release of the TDA (month 14);
HMI architecture (month 14);
Multimedia specifications (month 14);
Deployment review (month 18);
Business plan (month 18);
Final Project Report (month 18).

Coordinator

DEPT OF BIOPHYSICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING
Address
Via Opera Pia 11/A
16145 Genova
Italy

Participants (9)

BINOMEN AB
Denmark
Address
Industrivej 30
9490 Pandrup
CONSORCIO EUROPEO DE TECNOLOGIAS TURISTICAS, S.A.
Spain
Address
Calle Infanta Mercedes 31 Plta. Baja Local 13
28020 Madrid
COSTA AQUARIUM SPA
Italy
Address
Ponte Spinola Area Porto Antico
16128 Genova
ELOQU - METABASIS GMBH VERKEHRSMANAGEMENT, COACHING, TELEMATIK
Germany
Address
Dovestrasse 1
10587 Berlin
INTELLIGY APS
Denmark
Address
Soenderhoej 46
8260 Viby
MICROIDEA S.R.L.
Italy
Address
Viale Risorgimento 2
40136 Bologna
POINTSTAR A/S
Denmark
Address
Ellegaardvej 36
6400 Soenderborg
TELESPAZIO S.P.A.
Italy
Address
Via Tiburtina 965
00156 Roma
UDDEVALLA MUNICIPALITY
Sweden
Address
City Hall
451 81 Uddevalla