Computer scientists bring internet search engine to physical world

New search engine answers users’ questions through real world sensors

Computer scientists are exploring ways to bring internet search into the physical world through sensors.

These sensors are not new but are daily devices within the public that have internet access such as cameras and microphones.

The computer scientists are drawn from Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM’s Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto and Consorzio S3 Log. The project is known as SMART, for ‘Search engine for MultimediA Environment geneRated content’. It is funded by the European Union and seeks to let users search and analyse data from these real world sensors.

The project seeks to tackle a simple but crucial shortfall of standard search engines. For example, Google may not effectively answer the question: ‘How busy is the city centre?’ or ‘What part of the city hosts live music events which my friends have been to recently?’ With sensors located in the real world, the new search engine will draw its results from these sensors and answer these questions effectively.

Other than the sensors, the new search engine will also cross-reference data from social media sites and provide appropriate responses.

According to Dr Iadh Ounis, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, the search engine will respond to “high level questions” by automatically identifying cameras, microphones or other sensors with data that relates to the question. The search engine will then automatically synthesize the results in an intelligent way, said Dr Ounis.

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