Virtual tour guide with personality

Wednesday 13th May 2009, 6:30 pm.

Speaker: Professor Rob Pooley, Heriot-Watt University.

Venue: University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB - map (click on Informatics Forum in the list of buildings).


The talk will describe the evolution over a number of projects of a handheld virtual guide, for PDA or mobile phone use. It began with "A Tour Guide With Attitude" produced by Mei Yii Lim for her PhD at Heriot Watt. This created a portable guide to a site such as the Los Alamos nuclear bomb facility in New Mexico. The guide would adapt its presentation to user responses, while exhibiting anger or pleasure as its favourite stories were welcomed or not. GPS was used to tie story telling to location. From this start we have now developed a J2ME Java implementation which is location aware (using GPS or RFID tags), can dynamically download tours and support uploading of text and images for later review. It has most recently been extended with an automatic personalisation based on user use of facilities and reaction to stories. This does not require explicit user input.

Current work will extend support for voice synthesis and provide more effective administration and post-processing capabilities. The question remains whether this can replace the "human" touch of a real tour guide..

About the speaker


Rob Pooley is a Professor of Computer Scienceat Heriot Watt University. He originally graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in economics and worked for several years as a high school teacher in Bootle. He moved into computing with an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Bradford in 1979. For seven years he worked as a systems programmer in the compilers group at Edinburgh University's Regional Computer Centre (ERCC), before joining the academic staff as a Lecturer in Computer Science in 1986, obtaining his PhD in 1995. He moved to Heriot Watt as a professor in 1998. His research and teaching interests include software engineering, pervasive systems, performance modelling and information systems design. He is FBCS and an accreditor for BCS. He has presented courses for BCS and as CPD in object oriented design an d programming and UML. He also enjoys golf and miniature historical wargaming.