Maritime alliance adding smarts to wireless

A software development firm in St. John’s is working on an intelligent agent for mobile workers, which it says will be more intuitive in adapting to the needs of users.

The project is the third phase of Consilient Technologies Corp.’s WEx Gateway system – it has already completed the development of the WEx gateway server that forms the basis of a managed wireless solution, and the Wireless Rapid Application dePloyment (WRAP) module that provides wireless applications to any handheld.

Now Consilient is looking to WRAP 2.0, which it says will incorporate sophisticated artificial intelligence techniques to optimise the layout of forms on a wireless device and increase the efficiency of their use

Dr. Daniel Silver, assistant professor at the Jodrey School of Computer Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., likened the artificial intelligence that will be included in the gateway to the famous Microsoft paperclip – but one that grows and adapts its knowledge as the user does.

Consilient, along with Acadia, Dalhousie University in Halifax, ColabNet in St. John’s, Tryllian Technologies in the Netherlands, and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, will build the gateway for mobile devices and wearable computers to access real-time corporate information.

The project recently received a helping hand from the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) in the form of $1.7 million, which is now added to the $1 million the group had raised.

Trevor Adey, president of Consilient, said WEx will be comprised of hardware and software, and will act as a wireless extension that allows organizations to extend their wireless systems to mobile users.

Adey said they sought out the best academic institutions that were working in technology.”We were specifically looking for those working in artificial intelligence. We want to make the layout of the device easier to use,” he said.

This ease-of-use is all related to adaptability, according to Silver.

He said his team will work on how users interact with their computing system – what they like or dislike and then adapt the model to that.

“Think of e-mail. Wouldn’t it be nice to see which ones you look at first and have the e-mail system build a model based on that, and have it present your e-mail in that priority next time?”

He added this is research on modification of field entry. For instance, if there are 10 fields to be filled in by a mobile worker, one person will fill them in one order, another will fill them out a different way, Silver said. Instead of changing the order manually every time, the computer program should be able to adapt to individual ways of doing things.

The group from Dalhousie will be working on the human-computer interaction and telling the others what users like and don’t like – his team will then try to adapt the model to that, Silver said.

He said the AIF is giving Atlantic Canada a way to break into that – important, given that North America needs to catch up in the wireless game.

“I am sitting here looking out over Graz (Austria), and everyone is sitting at the caf