Ubiquitous Computing was introduced in a seminal paper by Weiser back in 1991, when even the World Wide Web was in its infancy. Ubicomp describes a world where interaction occurs between people and augmented artefacts commonly deployed around, automatically, even without the user’s explicit initiation. In the years after the original paper was published, a few variations were introduced, such as Ambient Intelligence or Calm Computing, notions that explored the original idea, adding uniques characteristics of their own. Despite the passage of 25 years, Ubiquitous Computing has yet to reach the vision of its originator. Our goal is to investigate challenges that can be addressed in the fulfilment of this notion, in accordance to the emergence of other technologies that accompany Ubicomp.
Nowadays, another idea, more complete, has emerged replacing Ubicomp as the heart of academic and industry research: the Internet of Things. The basic idea of the IoT is the pervasive presence of “things” around us that can interact with each other and through the Internet infrastructure with other things or systems across the world, providing personalized services on run-time. The Internet of Things empowers all those connected objects with a seemingly “smart” behavior, adding appropriate reactions to events and situations, caused by users or the environment. It is a unique field of research both in scope and range, covering numerous technologies and subfields of Computer Science. Our team’s intention is to explore the IoT and select a few areas of interest that will receive our attention, such as Context Aware Computing, Augmented Reality, Human Computer Interaction etc, hopefully providing some answers that will help towards a quicker realization of this groundbreaking technology.
Context-awareness started as a feature of Ubiquitous systems and describes the ability of the system to customize its behaviour according to the perceived context. With the advent of the Internet of Things, a huge number of sensors will be deployed, making it infeasible to process all sensed data. Context-awareness will provide the techniques to decide which data is needed and which not, decreasing the computational costs and making the systems quicker and more efficient. CA is one of the most important technologies of interest for our team, since it can fuel many applications in Ubiquitous environments. Our topics of interest consist of (not exclusively): middleware, system architecture that combines CA with the IoT infrastructure, CA in healthcare, predicting human behaviour, BANs, wearables etc.
Augmented reality is a state-of-the-art technology which enriches user’s field of vision with computer generated information. It is characterized as a variation of virtual reality which users can interact with its three dimensional content in real time (Azuma, 1997). Today, augmented reality is a technology which significantly affects user experience in many fields such as industry, sports, culture and education.
Metadata are computer processable data that give details and further information for other data. Nowadays, there are multiple metadata formats and standards as there are repositories that produce, store and manage metadata on their databases. Metadata interoperability is the ability of a system to manage metadata without losing their key content and features regardless of their format. Alongside, metadata aggregation refers to the searching and gathering information based on a topic from many repositories and databases. Our work focuses on developing new ways to aggregate cultural metadata and heritage content and meanwhile designing interoperable metadata.
Embodied conversational agents or intelligent agents are computer generated characters that inherit many of the human attitudes and behavior aspects. More like virtual humans, they are capable of participate in conversations with users, as they can understand and respond to them, and also perform hand gestures and facial expressions or even express emotions. Characters that users design and edit in computer games or virtual environments are examples of embodied agents. In our works, we intend to use intelligent agents for applications with digital storytelling in museums, guides in augmented reality applications and virtual characters in educational platforms.
The next version of the web will be quite different than the one users used to nowadays as the basic tool will no longer be the document and the web pages but data. The third generation of the internet is called Semantic Web and it is based on the idea that the information that is available via the Internet is no longer accessible only by users, but also it should be processed by search engines, intelligent information systems and websites. Therefore, it is necessary all data to be structured in a single model in order to be compatible and editable by anyone (users or machines). The links for data in the Semantic Web (same as URLs for the current web version) are also extremely important so users and machines can explore the web of data. So, director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tim Berners-Lee introduced "Linked Open Data" in 2006, as data that use HTTP URIs to identify searchable objects, are structured in standards like RDF, link to each other through web and can be accessible through web for anyone. Linked Open Data and Semantic Web are two sections that our team aims to explore and research on their development and implementation.
UX has been widely defined as an umbrella term for designing, evaluating and studying the experiences that people encounter while using a particular product, system or service, in a specific context. It involves a person's attitude, behavior and emotions towards a specific artifact. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines UX as "A person's perceptions and responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service".Regarding AR, many definitions often imply the use of 3D graphics superimposed on the user’s view of the world, emphasizing the visual aspect of AR. However, from a user experience point of view it can be any media — visual, sound, haptic, etc. — that enhances the user’s reality and specific context, thus addressing the meanings of Heikkinen et al., suggested that studying user expectations could potentially help in the approximation of the actual UX even before the product or service is realized. Furthermore, Roto et al.  emphasized that the basis of any positive UX is already defined at the conceptual level of the product, even when no actual interaction between the product and the user exists. Olsson et. al.  conducted user studies to gather user needs and expectations through focus discussions using different sets of use cases and scenarios on MAR.The broad trends in the field of culture is no longer something memorable like a few years ago, but an indisputable fact with no surprise for anyone. Therefore, regarding the data dissemination and rapid evolution, it is interesting to see how a cultural space (eg. a Museum) integrate such technologies into practice to enrich and by doing things they couldn't do before by effectively leverages the capabilities of technologies to discover new aspects and directions in the experience offered by doing things we could not have imagined before. New technologies of cultural experience based on space-sensitive applications and large data analysis applications that enrich the cultural practices respectively and museum-learning respectively, as is the active role of the visitor and the personalization of the Museum experience. At the same time, the tools end-user empowerment seems to reveal new ways of participation of the visitor in the formation of cultural experience but also to the relationship of the visitor to the Museum.
Serious games are digital applications of interactive technology, in which education is the primary goal, rather than entertainment, enjoyment or fun. They are designed to run on personal computers or video game consoles and used for training, advertising, simulation, or education. They promote learning and behavior changes in various areas, such business, industry, marketing, education and healthcare and allow learners to experience situations that are impossible in the real world for reasons of safety, cost, and time. Related terms are game-based learning, edutainment, and eduventures.
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a discipline concerned with the design, implementation, and evaluation of interactive computing systems for human use. As a field is situated at the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, social psychology, artificial intelligence, sociology, anthropology and several other fields of study. Some of the research fields in this scientific area are: Usability Engineering, Ubiquitous Computing, Developing Methods for user-centered design, Affective computing etc. Affective Computing is computing that relates to, arises from, or deliberately influences emotion or other affective phenomena.In everyday life human beings express their emotions through multiple modalities, such as body posture, speech prosody, facial expression etc. Natural interaction aims to invent and create systems that understand these features, such as gesture and body expressivity via gesture and body expressivity computational formalization approaches, and engage people in a dialogue, while allowing them to interact naturally with each other and the environment. Multimodal emotion recognition consists determining factor in the development of emotion-oriented systems.
Main goal is the creation of several interactive media museum stories by choosing one or two museums as main targets. After choosing the concept of the stories, we place the story into the physical world and we create the digital content of the story using multi-tools and AR apps. Next step is the implementation of a production out of a story given user actions, profile and context. The application of the “CHESS” prototype at the Acropolis Museum in Athens will be our guide for our research.Methodology: A participatory design methodology, implemented with a small group of end-users (both museum curators and representative groups of visitors) who, either as partners in the consortium or through a user group actively participate in the planning and design of the scenarios from the outset. The interactive story creation includes four main phases: scripting, staging, producing, and editing.Tools: CHESS Authoring Tool ,desktop software environment that enables them to design and implement interactive stories, which are later experienced by visitors on mobile devices.
Layar is one of the most high-profile augmented reality apps. Layar uses a number of AR apps which overlay digital content and information on to your view of the real world, as seen through your phone's camera. If you scan the cover of a comic book, with the Layar App, the magic of Augmented Reality brings the cover to life with a video previewing the forthcoming series of comics.Prerequisites - Tools:Layar developer account.A Gmail account.Server with public IP/domain where you will store actual layer content.Mobile device having Layar browser support. Small experience in JSON programming.Methodology: Develop the cartoons and the comics first at the Layar developer site and after at the server. Next step is testing the App and finally publishing.
Dixit is the lovingly illustrated game of creative guesswork, where your imagination unlocks the tale. In this award-winning board game, players will use the beautiful imagery on their cards to bluff their opponents and guess which image matches the story. Guessing right is only half the battle – to really succeed, you’ll have to get your friends to decide that your card tells the story! Every turn, the storyteller will call out a short phrase or word to match the image on his card. Then each player will choose the card that most closely matches that phrase, and then everyone must guess which card the storyteller saw when he invented his brief tale. Correctly guess the storyteller’s card, and you’ll move ahead. Convince everyone else that your card is best, and you’ll do even better.Prerequisites - Tools:Layar developer account.A Gmail account.Server with public IP/domain where you will store actual layer content.Mobile device having Layar browser support. Small experience in JSON programming.Methodology: Create 84 stories depending on the pictures of the 84 cards, first at the Layar developer site and after at the server. Next step is testing the App and creating the new Layar coded cards.
AAL supports semi-independent living for people that suffer health issues (e.g. recovering from a surgery). The idea is to provide an architecture that can collect data from the environment and decide if certain actions need to be performed, such as in case of a fall. Wearables are among the most important sensory objects of AAL, since they measure data closely related to the person of interest. Also, there is a need for a smart device called MBU (Mobile Base Unit) which will manage the wearable sensors of the person’s BAN (Body Area Network) and communicate with the IoT infrastructure of the area (possibly through Wifi) to deliver the AAL functionality. Context Awareness also plays an important role in this architecture.Methodology: Using a few wearable devices, create a prototype BAN, which will measure specific information like body temperature, movements (accelerometer), heart pulse, transpiration etc. Also, implement a mobile application which will run on the smartphone or smartwatch functioning as the MBU. The application will manage the wearable sensors and based on Context Aware computing methods will decide whether there is an emergency that needs to be dealt with.Tools: Wearables, Arduino microcontrollers, activity tracker, smartwatch are among the basic equipment that will be needed. Android/IoS programming for the MBU is needed as well. JSON for data exchange may be useful.
Smart Home is between the key development fields for large companies which trade in the Internet of Things. As companies like Amazon begin to offer smart devices for homes, the main idea is to search and make a list of smart solutions (software platforms and small devices) in the area, analyze them and write a small report with their capabilities and evaluation.
The emergence of the Internet of Things has made major contributions to the development of the term “smart house”. Even now there are plenty of smart devices that users can install and manipulate at their home. One of them is called “smart lamp” and this idea is based on the construction of a small platform where users can interact with their lights and plugs at home from a distance. As a result, it will lead to the simulation of a prototype small environment.Methodology: It requires the purchase and the habituation of smart lambs, and probably an administration device which will control them. Furthermore, automation services offered by IFTTT can be used.
Pervasive computing aims in enriching daily lives of users by implementing digital infrastructures which are based in smart devices communicating each other. As a result, cities and houses will be overwhelmed with smart objects that will allow users to interact and exchange data. This leads to not only the physical exposure of objects and data, but also it raises questions over the privacy protection of users. This work is a bibliography research of the current security and privacy issues in pervasice computing. Students should analyze the current and future risks, and find the solution techniques which are proposed.
The idea is to implement a small “smart” environment in a public library, where users can find their way to the desired book from a mobile application that tracks books and users with RFID tags. Then, the smart system will loan automatically the books to users and inform them when they have to return them back.Methodology: It requires the purchase and the habituation of RFID devices (tags and readers), a smartphone and the implementation of a mobile application. Also students should have a background in coding.
Smart agent is the software that can interact with users and take logical decisions based on actual interactions between humans. Using the given software, the purpose of this work is the implementation of a smart agent for smartphones that allows user to interact with his device by voice commands or text exchange. The subject of the smart agent is open to debate.Methodology: For the implementation, students will have to install and familiarize with the API software. Desirable but not essential is the knowledge of mobile programming languages.