Search Engine Queries Physical World In Real Time

June 14, 2012 | 08:55
Search Engine Queries Physical World In Real Time
Search Engine Queries Physical World In Real Time
As the internet continues its explosive growth new tools are needed to make sense of the ever-increasing amount of information coursing its wires and waves. To meet the challenge computer scientists of the University of Glasgow are developing a search engine which searches data captured from the physical world in real time.

The Scottish scientists are anticipating the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), the next iteration of the internet where uniquely identifiable devices and objects collect, analyze and communicate information without human involvement. For instance, self-driving cars can share their location and speed over the network. As all cars have access to the data they can adapt their behavior accordingly to collisions and traffic jams.

Cisco IBSG estimates [PDF] that by 2015 25 billion devices will be connected to the IoT, by 2020 the number will have grown to 50 billion. All of which will be churning out data.

In order to access all this data in a meaningful way, Dr Iadh Ounis, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science and his team are working on a search engine which lets users retrieve real-time information from sensors embedded in the physical world.

The SMART engine –short for Search engine for MultimediA enviRonment generated contenT- is  a multimedia search tool meaning it can search text, audio and video streams.

The SMART project focuses on urban areas which are increasingly being covered with visual, acoustic and other sensors. The SMART engine would enable citizens to find answers to questions such as: ‘Which park is the least crowded right now?’ or ‘Where are people watching the world cup’.

“The SMART engine will be able to answer high-level queries by automatically identifying cameras, microphones and other sensors that can contribute to the query, then synthesising results stemming from distributed sources in an intelligent way”, Dr Ounis said on the university’s website.

Because the search engine also has social media integration you can include social search: “Where are most of my friends watching the world cup?”.

The engine is built on an open source search engine technology known as Terrier which has been under development at the University of Glasgow since 2004.

The scientists expect they will start testing the engine in a real city in 2014.

For more information read the paper: Multimedia Search over Integrated Social and Sensor [PDF] 0r visit the project website.

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