Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Changing the focus on Search and Retrieval: From Software Assets to Interactive Multimedia Diary for Home

Often in this blog [1, 2], we have discussed an old and important topic in software reuse: the search and retrieval of software assets. For this complex problem, there are several approaches in order to improve it such as folksonomy, facets, ontologies, data mining, context, etc. In the RiSE, headed in different moments by Vinicius Garcia and Daniel Lucredio we discussed several questions about it. However, another point of view in this area is being explored by researchers of the University of Tokyo. In their research [see the full paper], search and retrieval is still the main problem, but the point of view is a little bit different. Can you imagine a multimedia diary for your home? Yes, that is their focus. Imagine questions [for a system] such as: When did I get up on the first of this morning? Or [this one can be good for some classmates] who left the lights on in the study room last night? Or Am I working at home during my stay?

Their motivation is that automated capture and retrieval of experiences tracking place at home is interesting for several reasons. First, the home offers an environment where a variety of memorable events and experiences take place [imagine your first soup, steps, etc]. Thus, the work on multimedia capture and retrieval focuses on the development of algorithms for person tracking, key frame extraction, media handover, lighting change detection and the design of strategies that help to navigate huge amounts of multimedia data. The studies were conducted at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology’s Ubiquitous Home in Kyoto, Japan, in an environment simulating a two-bed room house equipped with 17 cameras and 25 microphone for continuous video and audio acquisition, in conjunction with pressures-based floor sensors. Some challenges are associated to floor sensor data retrieval, audio retrieval, lighting changes, besides user interaction. In their prototype, the user retrieves video, audio, and key frames through a graphical interface based on some queries. But¸ about the queries you can think about the gap between the user queries and the semantic levels. For example, consider a query as: “retrieve video showing the regions of the house people were at 20:00 p.m” and “What was I doing after dinner?”.
The preliminary evaluation with real-life families shown that the research are going well. The algorithms results [retrieval] involved 73 percent for foot step segmentation accuracy, 80 percent for frames and 92 percent for audio.
As you can think, the researchers said that the main difficulty in the capture is the large amount of disk space it consumes. Moreover, for faster access, the video data is stored as frames and the audio as 1-minute clips, resulting in low compression of the data.
In our case, RiSE is having this problem also. However, our focus is on island of source code and docs. But, it is another history.


Daniel Lucrédio said...

I would like to start my reply by citing a special issue of the Communications of the ACM Magazine, Vol. 48, Issue 3, 2005 - the Disappearing Computer. One of the problems discussed in one of the papers has nothing to do with the technology itself: it's the question of security and trust. Do you really want everything you do to be stored? Because it can - eventually - be used against you (see the movie called Minority Report for a very plausible consequence of extensive storage and efficient search). The authors defend the idea that there should be explicit policies regarding what should and what shouldn't be stored.
And if we consider that storage capacity isn't really a big problem, when retrieval technology allows one to find information precisely, we may start seeing somethings like that happening - even in our lifetime. Like any technology, it may help us, for example, to remember whether we took our medicines in the morning or not, or if some particular piece of software already exists. But it can also lead to a different kind of reuse - an unwanted one - where things that should be left forgotten keep showing up. And I apologize for one thing, Eduardo. Although my reply to this post may seem a little too far away from our reality as software reuse researchers and practitioners, I do have a point: as reuse researchers, we should always be aware that there are other issues to be considered, not only technological, specially where there are people involved, such as software development.

Fred Durao said...

I see this as an interesting and innovative approach for search and retrieval application that may be quite useful for medical, particularly to psychology. I was just wondering about the database to maintain such multimedia content since it will be minutely increasing. I suppose that such information might be renewed periodically or the research group is also studying alternatives solutions for storage in parallel.

Oliver Hummel said...

Accoring to our experience with merobase pure source code collections do not become that large since they are just plain ASCII text. A good rule of thumb is a something between 1 and 5 kB per source file, so perhaps 10 GB of data for 5 M files...