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Glasgow develops sensory internet search engine

Computer scientists are helping to develop a search engine which will obtain its results from sensors in the physical world.

The SMART project, or 'Search engine for MultimediA Environment geneRated content’, aims to allow internet users to search and analyse data from net-connected sensors such as web cameras and microphones.

By matching search queries with information from sensors and cross-referencing data from social networks such as Twitter, users will be able to receive detailed responses to questions such as ‘What part of the city hosts live music events which my friends have been to recently?’ or ‘How busy is the city centre?’

Currently, standard search engines such as Google are not able to answer search queries of this type.

“The SMART project will be built upon an open-source search engine technology known as Terrier we have been developing at the University since 2004,” said Dr Iadh Ounis of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science.

“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 added that the SMART project builds upon the existing concept of ‘smart cities’, physical spaces which are covered in an array of intelligent sensors which communicate with each other and can be searched for information.

“The search results sourced from these smart cities can be reused across multiple applications, making the system more effective,” he explained.

“We expect that SMART will be tested in a real city by 2014.”

The SMART project is a joint research initiative of nine partners including the University of Glasgow, Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM’s Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto and Consorzio S3 Log.

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