Monday, December 19, 2005

SmartLibrary - Mobile Services in the Library

I can't believe I missed this one.

Back in May 2003, the Oulu University Main Library along with the Information Processing and Computer Engineering Laboratories of the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering launched a service called SmartLibrary. It allows library customers to browse the OULA library catalogue wirelessly with mobile terminal devices.

Access to a library's catalog on a mobile device is not that earth shattering in of itself. The interesting feature of this service is that if the customer so wishes they can request map-based guidance to a desired book or collection. The guidance system is based on dynamic user localization technology developed by Ekahau Inc.

Another new feature is a content production tool meant for the library staff: it allows the clerks to define the locations of shelf classes within the library as well as so-called landmarks, such as a photocopier, group work room or the borrowing desk - basically any target that can be located within the library.

The purpose of the landmarks is to make it easier for the users to find the objects that they are looking for in the library and to locate themselves at the same time. Landmarks also guide users to other libraries of the organization. SmartLibrary is operable in devices with an Internet connection and a right kind of browser (HTML browser in a PDA, XHTML browser in a mobile phone).

* SmartLibrary link for desktop users:
* SmartLibrary link for PDA users:
* SmartLibrary link for mobile phone users:

More Information:

Aittola M, Parhi P, Vieruaho M & Ojala T (2004) Comparison of mobile and fixed use of SmartLibrary. Proc. 6th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, Glasgow, Scotland, 383 - 387.

Aittola M, Ryhänen T & Ojala T (2003) SmartLibrary - Location-aware mobile library service. Proc. Fifth International Symposium on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, Udine, Italy, 411 - 416.

Sphere: Related Content

Hacking Santa

There is an interesting web site created by a guy named Josh McCormick that has received a bit of holiday press.

If you have visited one of the large retailers whiel shopping for gifts this holiday season you may have noticed this 5-foot (1.5m) Animated Singing Santa. Out fo the box this Santa "dances" and sings such classics as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bells."

Well, having time on his hands, the innovative Mr. McCormick figured out a way to hack into the Santa in order to reprogram it with his own dialog. For those who have the time and desire to hack your Santa He has posted the detailed instructions on his Animated Singing Santa Hack web site. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, December 16, 2005

High Definition (HD) Radio takes to the air

I first subscribed to the satellite radio service XM four years ago. The absence of radio commercials, all to talkative disc jockeys, and the ability to drive state-to-state without having to search for a decent channel were my primary motivations for subscribing for radio service. Other than listening to the Bob and Tom Show and local afternoon host John Corby I almost never listen terrestrial radio anymore. Even at work I stream XM radio feeds.

As the number of satellite radio subscribers pushes 10 million in early 2006, and Kagen Research projecting more than 46 million subscribers by over the next 10 years, one would wonder what terrestrial, or over the air radio, will need to compete.

Not to be outdone by satellite, HD Radio (TM) has emerged. HD Radio technology may mark the most significant advancement in radio broadcasting since the introduction of FM stereo. HD radio is what is called an in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio system created by iBiquity Digital Corporation for broadcasting via existing FM and AM radio stations. The HD Radio offers broadcasters and listeners radically upgraded audio quality, along with an on-demand interactive experience and compelling new wireless data services. The technology is designed for multicasting, so consumers can continue listening to the same local AM/FM stations but with the added benefits.

With HD Radio AM digital will have FM-like audio quality with all broadcasts providing static-free reception with the elimination of the familiar signal fades, static, hissing and pops. HD Radio also allows wireless data services to include On-Demand audio which includes the streaming of audio content providing more information on station programs, news, weather, and traffic. Other wireless data services include the display of artist and song information. The service is similar to the Radio Data Service (RDS), but HD Radio has the capability of delivering data at speeds of 1,000 to 2,000 bits per second compared to RDS's 100 bps.

As of December 2005 there are over several hundred HD radio stations on the air. HD Radio receivers are now coming to market with BMW being the first with their announcement of HD Radio being an option for their 2006 7-series models. Home listening equipment is currently available from several companies, in both a home tuner, and a table top models.

Of course, even with HD Radio you will still get the commercials, all to talkative disc jockeys and will have to hunt for radio stations in between cities and states. For long trips I will still have to print out a list of all the Bob and Toma affiliates and hunt for stations. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What's a Swicki?

A swicki is a search tool that allows the creation of deep, focused searches on any topic. Swickis are a new type of search engine or search results aggregator developed at Eurekster.

Unlike other search engines, a specific community has control over swicki results and uses the collective wisdom of a community to improve the search results. This resulting search engine, or swicki, can then be published on any web site. The swicki presents search results of interest in, pulls in new relevant information as it is indexed, and organizes it in a customizable widget that can be placed on a web site or blog. A "buzz cloud" is used to constantly update to show the hot search terms in the community.

Here's how Eurekster describes it:

"Joining the personal Web publishing phenomenon on blogs, podcasts, wikis and websites is the swicki - a next-generation search engine that gives personal and small-business Web publishers the power to design and deliver results tailored to their community's specific interests. A blend between a search engine and a wiki."

So, swickis are like wikis in that they are created by one person, but then can be set to allow lots of others to get involved. Currently, swickis automatically and anonymously learn from the search patterns of the community of users. Future features will allow the community to actively change the search results by explicitly deleting and promoting results. Creators will be able to control collaboration so one of the following occurs:

  • Only the creator can actively and passively influence the swicki
  • Only the creator can actively influence the swicki and everyone's behavior passively influences the swicki
  • More than one person can actively influence the swicki,and everyone's behavior passively influences the swicki
  • Everyone can actively and passively influence the swicki

The creator populates the site with the most common URLs for the community as well as the most common "buzz cloud" terms. As searches are preformed, the most commonly searched terms become quick links in the buzz cloud list. Setting up a Swicki is simple. It took me less that 5 minutes to create Open Source Systems for Libraries.

For More Information

LibraryCrunch's Library 2.0 swicki. An excellent library example put together by Michael Casey.

Luther L. Gobbel Library
of Lambuth University Sphere: Related Content

SmartFox (Firefox Scholar)

Scholars and researchers using library online catalogs, collections, and documents often have toutilize a series of stand-alone applications to make citations, take notes, and create personal collections and bibliographies. SmartFox (a.k.a Firefox Scholar) is new tool that may help.

Smartfox is an open source tool being developed by the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Also referred to as a scholar's web browser, the goal of SmartFox is to enable users to grab a citation to a book, journal article, archival document, or object and store it in the browser. Researchers can then take notes on the reference, associate the reference to others, and organize any metadata and annotations. The information gathered by SmartFox and the researcher is stored on the scholar's computer and is fully searchable.

No time frame for product release is available on the project site. Sphere: Related Content