ERCIM News No.47, October 2001 [contents]

Offering a Consumer-Oriented Ambient Intelligence Environment

by Valerie Issarny

OZONE is an IST project that aims at specifying and implementing a generic framework that will support the effective use and acceptance of ambient intelligence in the consumer domain. Nine INRIA research teams are contributing to OZONE, focusing mainly on the service enabling and software environment layers of the OZONE framework.

The objective of the OZONE project is to develop novel concepts, techniques and tools to provide invisible computing for the domestic and nomadic personal use of information technology. The developed concepts aim at improving the acceptability and usability for the average customer. One of the important concepts is the application of advanced technologies to support the user centric retrieval and consumption of information compared to the, current practice, computer centric approach. This requires special emphasis on natural interfaces that put the user in the foreground, and the system in the background. Security and privacy are prerequisites for consumer acceptance of these systems and are covered in the project’s objectives. A final objective deals with the provision of a strong technology base, enabling powerful, but energy-efficient, computing.

The OZONE project targets the provisioning of a generic framework that is not tailored to a specific environment but that is rather able to integrate new technologies as they appear. The framework architecture is based on a layered approach ranging from ‘service enabling’ functionality over the ‘software environment’ towards the underlying ‘platform architecture’. An incremental approach of specification, design and prototype implementation will be applied to arrive at enabling technologies, providing a generic invisible computing framework driven by demonstrator scenarios from the extended home environment area.

The main focus of INRIA in OZONE is on the service enabling and software environment layers. INRIA also contributes to some specific aspects of the platform architecture layer, relating to silicon compilation technology and resource management. INRIA will further develop a demonstrator of a new transportation system based on fully automated vehicles. The OZONE research will concern the human interface with the transportation system: reservation and call of vehicles, on-board control and information, city information, etc. The information support will be based on fixed terminals (home or office or city) as well as portable and on-board devices.

The service enabling layer comprises enabling technologies for seamless service discovery based on the user’s location and context, and for multimodal and secure access to available and personalized services. Core of the work will focus on the design and implementation of a linguistic knowledge management support environment to supply the situation sensitive information to the services operating in the framework, so that they can adapt to the context in a dynamic way. Next to this functionality, functionalities will be developed to support the application of multimodal user interfaces from the services as well as measures to protect the privacy of the user. For the multimodal interfaces, the combination of speech input with pointing devices will be the starting point; the application of vision will be investigated as an extension to this idea.

The software environment layer provides the necessary support for achieving service delivery, independent of connectivity, device in use and power supply means. Component-oriented software development methodology, and currently available tooling to help the development and deployment of distributed software systems will be taken as a starting point for the design of the software environment. However, these technologies are not sufficient to seamlessly offer services to users from the existing services that are available worldwide. Any requested service should be deployed dynamically in a way that guarantees both the functional and the non-functional properties that are expected from the service by the end-user. The approach undertaken to meet the aforementioned requirements lies in the combination of two technologies:

  • mobile agent technology will be exploited for the specification of the complex services to be deployed dynamically with respect to both the base services to be used and the user environment
  • component-based technology will be exploited for the integration of existing services, hence enabling their use by mobile agents.

The OZONE IST project will start in November 2001. The project will first investigate the specification of the generic OZONE framework, based on requirements elicitation and extensive inventory of the relevant technology domains. The project will then elaborate the generic framework enabling consumer-oriented ambient intelligence applications, which will be assessed using applications from the extended home environment area. The INRIA research teams contributing to OZONE are: Langue & Dialogue, Maia and Parole at INRIA-Lorraine, Cosi and Temics at INRIA-Rennes, Sirac at INRIA-Rhone Alpes, and Imara, Moscova, and Solidor at INRIA-Rocquencourt, The other partners of OZONE are: Philips (Project coordinator, The Netherlands), Interuniversity Micro Electronics Center (Belgium), Labo-ratoire d’Electronique de Philips (France), EPICTOID (The Netherlands), Technical University Eindhoven (The Netherlands), and Thomson Multimedia (France).

Please contact:
Valerie Issarny - INRIA
Tel: +33 1 39 63 57 17
E-mail: Valerie.Issarny@inria.fr