The Mobile Internet offers a new age of anytime, anywhere information access to a potential user-base of approximately 4 billion people. Recently, new life has been breathed into the Mobile Internet as a result of a combination of significant device, content, infrastructure and billing improvements. As such an increasing number of users are venturing online via their mobile phones in search of interesting content. In fact, mobile devices are already becoming the primary mode of Internet access for a large fraction of the world’s population. However, the Mobile Internet represents a challenging information access environment due to the inherent limitations of the mobile space, limitations that go beyond simple screen size or network issues. Mobile users have information needs that are impacted by contexts such as location, time and activity. Furthermore, human beings are social creatures that often seek out new strategies for sharing knowledge and information in mobile settings. Mobile information access presents its own challenges and opportunities that go beyond those of traditional desktop-based information access. The goal of this proposal is twofold: (1) to understand mobile users and their information needs, (2) to investigate future mobile information access services. A key component in the design of effective mobile services is to understand mobile users and their needs. As mobile technology advances, we can come to expect new behaviours to emerge. This is especially true as diverse user groups adopt mobile technology and as experienced mobile users adapt to new paradigms in mobile interaction. This proposal will explore novel forms of mobile information access which move beyond traditional query-based search and towards discovery of content. Our goal is to build rich, context-aware interfaces that proactively display relevant information to the user without the need for sophisticated interactions leading to improved search and information discovery.
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