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Ubiquitous Computing

We conduct research at the intersections of ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. With increased computing power, shrinking hardware, ubiquitous wireless networks, and widespread adoption of personal computing devices, we are entering into a new technological era of how humans interact with machines. This is made possible through embedding (at times personal and imperceptible) low-cost and low-power sensors and devices into our everyday environments.

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Human-Centered Multimedia Systems

We conduct research to develop and optimize multimedia systems based on the end-user’s perception, behavior and expectations in the context of use. Understanding and modeling how humans perceive multimedia signals, what are the social and communication cues that impact users’ experience when a multimedia system is used, and what are users’ expectations in the context of use of the system, is key in order to design and develop algorithms and technologies that provide a satisfactory experience to the end-user. Exploiting this knowledge, multimedia systems can be optimized to provide the best performance. For example, to optimize the bandwidth consumption for audio-visual content distribution over a mobile network, understanding the effect of the signal quality variations on user’s satisfaction can be used to optimize the transmission itself.

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Quality of Experience (QoE) and User Experience (UX)

Media consumption has become a ubiquitous part of life. Through evaluating the QoE of media experiences, we aim to quantify the users’ perceived quality of a system or service that affects their experience. What kind of compression technology satisfies users’ expectations for viewing quality? How much delay is tolerant in telecommunication for not disrupting the communication? How much bandwidth does a video stream need to ensure a satisfactory viewing experience? The group does not only focus on QoE, but aims understanding and quantifying the overall user experience, by taking into account personal and situational factors.

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Media Production, Consumption and Sharing

Technological advances are resulting in a complex media ecosystem, in which streaming media can reach a variety of end-devices using a heterogeneous set of delivery methods. Such development allows ubiquitous media consumption, where users consume digital content via a connected ecosystem of devices, whenever they want and wherever they are. Still many challenges remain at the production, distribution, and user levels. The group is developing novel mechanisms for group-based consumption, enriching, and sharing of media content. This results in research breakthroughs such as production tools for facilitating “on demand” temporal media-based compilations for multi-screen consumption of media, communication infrastructures that enable rich media-based shared experiences, optimization algorithms for ubiquitous rendering of media based on the user context and intention, and seminal works on secondary screens and social TV.

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Digital publishing

Many publishers use EPUB to bring digital content to their readers. EPUB is built from Web technologies, but publishing uses the Web for so much more, from everyday matters of communication and marketing to learning management systems and online journals. Nevertheless publications are still not first-class citizens of the Web. EPUB exists in silos, somewhat disconnected from the Web. Long texts make special demands on readers. We expect to read books and publications even while offline. We hope to share publications, save them, keep them. We expect a kind of permanence to publications, which we don’t typically expect of web sites. Publishing@W3C, a dedicated activity at the W3C, works to identify and solve these problems. We want publications on the Web to be more capable, more beautiful, more accessible, and easier.

As part of this activity, a separate Publishing Working Group has been set up at W3C to enable all publications — with all their specificities and traditions — to become first-class entities on the Web. The group aims at the development of Web Publications: a collection of (Web) resources, organized together through a manifest into a single logical work with a default reading order. The group concentrates on the development of a generic framework, with a particular attention to specific publishing areas, like audiobooks, Mangas, or scholarly publications.

Ivan Herman, from CWI, played a seminal role in the creation of Publishing@W3C a few years ago, and is now its technical leader in cooperation with core players of the Web as well as the publishing industries.

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Web technologies at W3C

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Web has become an essential part of modern society. The presence of researchers has always been seen as essential in the development of the Web and CWI is proud to have contributed actively to this evolution. CWI has been active in the development of HTML, CSS, SMIL, RDF, RDFa, XForms, OWL, R2RML, JSON-LD, SPARQL and many more. Beyond the participation in the relevant Working Groups, members of the DIS group have also acted as Working Group (co-)chairs, as well as activity leads for HTML and the Semantic Web within W3C. Current activities concentrate on:

  • the further development of the XForms standard, designing declarative techniques for representing functionality in network-based documents, and applying web-related methods to managing the Internet of Things;
  • further development of JSON-LD, creating bridges between the Semantic Web and Web Applications;
  • digital publishing and the Web (see separate page for further details).

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