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If you look at the way you work and interact with today’s computer systems you will realize that you have to be very explicit, and make sure that you are very careful when you type in names, when you program command, or do some other routine work processing. If you have a constant power source you will only lose time in case you do something wrong, but if it is a portable platform you work on, you will also lose battery life. Namely you have to worry about the careful “feeding” of the platform. And just think about the last time your system fell under a virus attack? So, what he was driving at, is that we really need to get to point when the systems support the user, rather than user supports the systems.

In other words, we need the system to be user-aware :

It basically means that the systems should be able to take care of itself, weight out its resources and use them efficiently. It needs to anticipate with high level or certainty what needs to be done. It needs to sense the environment, to better understand the user and environment needs. It needs to learn and adapt to our needs. And this last thing is probably the most important. When we achieve this level of sophistication, we will fully unleash the power of the systems we built.

An example of a user aware system presented by Justin was actually very common and very illustrative. I think all computer users face this problem once in a while. I think most of us have digital cameras and we all take a lot of pictures. Digital photography is wonderful but it is so-called “user broken experience”. Why? - We have too many pictures and can never find anything when we need it real fast (unless we are organized, and sort pictures to properly named and dated folders with detailed content description right away). I am not like that, and it means that I am among those users who wouldn’t mind some help in searching for digital pictures :) Let’s see how this can be done.

The screenshot above shows a Diamond Project application. In this demo there are about 85,000 photos. But we need to find only one, and I our example it was supposed to be a picture of Justin Rattner in a blue IDF shirt delivering a speech. The photo is unlabelled, of course. One of the best known techniques that could be applied here is face detection. Then we create a new filter on the fly, by showing the system examples of shirts colors. And as a result we limit the search to just a few dozens photographs.

Diamond Project is a collaborate research product developed by CMU and Intel. And it is not the only one of the kind. According to Intel, they are now working on similar tools that could be used for sorting out medical images and graphical information in medical institutions.

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