The University of Glasgow is helping to develop a new type of search engine that will use sensors located in the physical world -- such as cameras and microphone arrays -- to contribute to answers, along with data from social networks such as Twitter. The aim is to answer questions such as "How busy is the city centre?" and "Which is the most fashionable colour now?"
The university is participating in a European-funded project called SMART, for "Search engine for MultimediA Environment geneRated content". Other participants include Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM’s Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto, and Consorzio S3 Log.
Glasgow is also one of eight university members of the Scottish Sensor Systems Centre, which is funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Sensors are seen as an important part of the development of "smart cities".
Dr Iadh Ounis, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, said: "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."
SMART is based on Terrier open source search engine technology that Glasgow has been developing since 2004, and Ounis expects the system "will be tested in a real city by 2014".
The SMART project also includes face- and people-tracking, and crowd analysis.
The project has a website at www.smartfp7.eu.
The SMART search engine will be able to use data from CCTV cameras for crowd density analysis