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IBM outlines vision of a more intuitive internet


November 3, 2010
By Anthony Capkun

November 3, 2010

An IBM-led team of researchers says it has mapped out a smarter, more intuitive version of the internet—one in which “you can assign tasks to make your life easier, such as ordering taxis, managing social engagements or even paying bills”.

The research was released at the 20th annual Cascon, a software and
computing conference showcasing research by IBM Centre for Advanced
Studies (CAS) in collaboration with academic and government research
organizations. Representatives from IBM, Queen’s University, and the
universities of Victoria, Waterloo, Toronto and Maryland Baltimore
County outlined the results of their Smart Internet research project.

As the world becomes more instrumented and interconnected, and cloud
services and analytics become more advanced, the internet will be able
to automatically pull together data and services from a variety of
online sources and integrate them in a way that provides context, and
that can be used more easily, researchers said.

For example, the project work, which started in 2009, has determined how
future iterations of the internet will enable users to arrange to have
taxis to and from the airport automatically ordered whenever they book a
flight, and automatically notified when flights are delayed, or link
RSVPs on a Facebook invitation with the reservation system at their
favourite restaurant to automatically reserve a table for the exact
number of guests who accept.

“The project illustrated how the internet will move beyond the present
paradigm where people are responsible for the initiating and managing
their own manual navigation of the Web, to a ‘personalized Web’,
functioning as a platform of services and resources that are dynamically
and automatically configured to suit each person’s individual goals,
tasks and concerns, in a way that person wants,” said Joanna Ng, master
inventor and head of research at IBM’s Center for Advanced Studies.

Currently, a function such paying bills requires you to be aware when
bills are due and proactively initiate a payment transaction by visiting
one or more URLs. More often than not, this involves repeating many
decisions that are the same or similar to decisions made in previous
service requests; say, last month, when the same bill was due.

The smarter internet will know when bills are due and, on those dates,
log on to your online bank account, process a payment and even transfer
additional funds to prevent overdraft—a series of events set in motion
by your one-click Yes response to an automatically generated question,
“Do you want to pay this bill now?”.

The research team has also determined how to integrate a
behind-the-scene enabler to deliver information and services in a way
users want, and how to do that when it is most relevant and appropriate
to the user’s task at hand or situation.

“If, for example, I’m a physician and use text alerts, a smart internet
would inform me only of messages that are emergencies or of immediate
relevance to the patient I am attending to, until I am free. I don’t
want to receive notifications about a sale on sporting goods while I’m
with a patient,” explained Jim Cordy, Queen’s University professor.

Future research efforts will focus on commercialization of the
technologies that support the smart internet, and other scientific
advancements to transform it into a ubiquitous tool that support
people’s needs in a timely and personalized way, while still allowing
them to maintain appropriate control over the tasks themselves.

CAS Canada Research is a unit of IBM’s Centre for Advanced Studies
Canada, and is responsible for applied research and accelerating the
commercialization of advanced research into strategic products.


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