LONDON A £1.6 million project, based at the University of Bath, will turn the city centre into a ‘pervasive’ computing zone where users have access to computer services wherever they are and at all times, without disrupting Bath’s famous 18th century Georgian architecture.
The Cityware project will make use of wireless networks, Bluetooth and Near Field Communication at different locations across the city. Researchers will be able to measure the volunteers’ usage of these technologies, as well as looking at other key issues like security and privacy.
The project will use technology that allows people to accurately find their way round the city, interactive city-wide games and cultural activities, and information services people can use when working, socialising and relaxing.
Dr Danaë Stanton Fraser from the University’s Department of Psychology, one of the investigators on the project, said, “As well as working with residents and visitors to Bath, one of the innovative strands of the project is the involvement of a cohort of 30 volunteers who live in the city so that we can explore how people use technology over a period of time.”
“Volunteers will be given state-of-the-art mobile phones and will work with the project over the next three years to see how these technologies affect their lives. They will also provide feedback on our new applications.”
Their preferences will guide high-technology firms in how to develop the next generations of applications available on devices such as mobile phones, hand-held computers and laptops.
Dr Eamonn O’Neill from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath who is leading the project, added “Pervasive technology that is available to everyone, everywhere and at all times promises to be the next big leap in mobile computing technology. It will open up a new range of technology-based services that will help people in their everyday lives, and will also explore the use of mobile and pervasive technologies to improve the ways that members of the community connect with each other.”
One of the first new services that will be available through the Cityware project is a location recognition tool that uses the photographs people take of buildings to help them find where they are. They send their photograph to a central server which compares their picture with a database of images to recognise where they are; it then sends them information about the history of the building and other local points of interest.
Partners on the project include: Imperial College London and University College London, Vodafone, Nokia, HP Laboratories, Node and IBM. It is funded by a £1.2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and contributions worth £400,000 from the industrial partners.