Small logo of ETH main building ETH Zurich : Computer Science : Pervasive Computing : Distributed Systems : Education : Student Projects : Abstract

Using Bluetooth as Context for Public Displays (M)

Status: Abgeschlossen

Many researchers are exploring the development of personalized or context aware public displays. The basic idea is to tailor the information presented on a public display to better match its context. Typically this means identifying people who are looking at a display at a given point in time and then tailoring information to match their requirements. The challenges include identifying viewers,understanding their requirements and resolving conflicts when multiple viewers are in front of a display.

One method of identifying users is through the presence of their personal Bluetooth device (e.g. their cell phone). This project will explore the use of this technology to tailor a public display system. Software for scanning and logging BlueTooth sightings is available and this will be used as a starting point for the project. The project has the following goals:

  • to deploy BT scanning software in conjunction with the AwareNews project and to explore how factors such as scanning range, device type etc. impact on the ability of the system to recognize viewers.
  • to supply BT sightings to the software controlling AwareNews displays in order to enable the display of tailored information.
  • to explore the design of an application to enable users to control the extent and nature of personalization that takes place in a public display system.

This last point is particularly pertinent since it aims to put control of the display content in the hands of the viewer - an approach at odds with many public display systems

About AwareNews

AwareNews is a prototypical public display system under development at ETH's Global Information System Group (GlobIS). The system aims at providing awareness about news, activities and events within an organisation as well as fostering informal social interactions of the group members. An initial prototype of the AwareNews system has been deployed to a few selected offices and public spaces within ETH. Even though AwareNews does not provide any means for directly interacting with the public display, context-awareness and personalisation are important issues. By tailoring the content to the people that are currently present in front of a public display, the system can provide more relevant information and provide hints regarding common interests of the people.

More information can be found on the AwareNews Project Page.

Trials and Travel Opportunities

After the system has been built and tested at ETH, its core features are to be trialed at Lancaster University. Lancaster has recently invested approx 1.2 million CHF in a research infrastructure to support experiments in public display systems. The resulting deployment, called e-Campus, will, when finished, feature nearly 100 displays ranging in size from small "smart doorplates" to large scale multi-projector installations. An API is available for creating applications that run on the e-Campus infrastructure and a small number of nodes will be deployed at ETH to facilitate pre-trial development and testing. The user community at Lancaster consists of approximately 11,000 students and we hope that a significant percentage of these will participate in the user trial. The photos below (for photo credits please contact show a sample of current e-Campus installations. There will be an opportunity for students working on this project to base themselves at Lancaster during the trials if they wish and to work closely with other members of the e-Campus project team operating within the Computing Department in InfoLab21 (

Student/Bearbeitet von: JeLan Ong
Contact/Ansprechpartner: Marc Langheinrich, Corsin Decurtin

ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated May 7 2012 07:19:04 PM MET ml