Since arriving at the University of Haifa in 2004, my research has focused on supporting individuals and groups in ubiquitous computing and, more specifically, on problems related to Ubiquitous User Modeling – how to track, monitor and model users (and groups) in these environments and how to provide them with continuous personalized services based on their models. In this work, I have integrated knowledge acquired as part of my Ph.D. work on Information Filtering along with the user modeling knowledge acquired both then and subsequently while working at ITC/irst (now FBK/irst), at the PEACH project, prior to arriving at Haifa.
My research aims are to suggest novel solutions for user modeling challenges in ubiquitous computing environments, by making user modeling a continuous, lifelong process, where the personal information can be made available to the environment as needed, under the control of the user.
Over the years, the focus of my work on ubiquitous user modeling has been applying it, in practice, within cultural heritage settings. First, at the Castello di Buon Consiglio, in Trento, Italy, in the framework of the PEACH project, I developed the user modeling component of the system and designed the multi-agent system (MAS) based version of the system (in collaboration with the MAS developers and the PEACH team), publishing several workshop, conference and journal papers and providing what some have considered to be breakthrough advancements in personalization in cultural heritage. Next, in the framework of the PIL project, which I have directed at the University of Haifa as part of a long lasting set of Israeli-Italian collaboration projects, I have made contributions to both the theoretical and foundational aspects of ubiquitous user modeling and to the practical implementation of working systems. This work was also discussed in local and international media.
In the course of this work, a “Living Lab” has been developed – a museum visitors’ guide system was developed for the Hecht museum, located at the University of Haifa. The system was available for visitors on a daily basis for over three years and served (and continues to serve) also as a test bed for experimenting with novel technologies in the museum at the same time. The system is being used for research on Social Signal Processing together with my graduate students, where we monitor signals transmitted by devices carried by the visitors that are used for modeling group behavior, in order to reason about the state of the group visit. At various points, the system may intervene and offer them various services in a non-intrusive manner, applying interrupt management techniques. The use of a variety presentation devices and methods for individuals and groups in active environment is explored, including personal devices, large screens and mobile projectors. A second team of graduate students are engaged in research of intelligent users interfaces in ubiquitous computing within the “living lab” museum environment. They are working on interaction with large situated displays, interrupt management, navigation support, temporal and lifelong aspects of ubiquitous user modeling as witnessed by our publications.
In parallel with this main course of research, I developed an ongoing collaboration on developing agricultural decision support systems for plant diseases infection risk assessment, diseases identification and preventive treatment optimization with colleagues from Istituto Agrario di San Michele Al’Adige in Trento, Italy and the Volcani center in Israel. This work has been published in various venues.
My current research plan is to continue to pursue these two lines of research on Ubiquitous User Modeling, where together with my graduate students we continue to focus on how to integrate various available sources for user modeling in order to provide the best ad-hoc personalized requested service for users “on the go” in active environments. The application domain for my research continues to be the “cultural heritage” domain, where there are vast amounts of information that can be delivered to users having limited time to experience them. Specifically, the practical aspects of my current (and future) work takes place at the Hecht museum, as a direct continuation of the Haifa-Trento series of collaboration projects and is being extended to other museums in Israel and abroad. We have proposed to engage in a radically new vision for technologies in the museum: rather than plan a visit, an “intelligent” system should exploit opportunities to stimulate the visitors interests and present information in a way that helps in developing new interests and in examining the roles that mobile Internet and social media can play in the context of a museum visit with a mobile museum guide.
In addition to the above research areas, I am extending my work on decision support systems to occupational therapy where I collaborate on a research project with Prof. Tamar Weiss, initiated through our contact within the Caesarea Rothschild Institute. The goals of this work are about enhancing the process of assignment of assistive technology to people with disabilities by a decision support system and introducing personalization techniques into technology supported rehabilitation.
Last but not least, I continue to work on software engineering aspects, exploiting my long time professional knowledge and collaborating with colleagues on issues related to improving software development processes such as software reuse, software testing and evaluation of requirements modeling techniques.
It is my intention, to further the study of ubiquitous user modeling through this broad interwoven set of multidisciplinary areas, and to make those scientific contributions available to the wider community.