The Rise of Perceptual Technologies

In his two Intel blog articles (links provided below) the author, Bob Duffy, (2015, 2016) focuses on the shift from implicit to explicit computing that is happening in both the general computing area and in technology companies. This brief blog post emphasizes the growing interest for implicit systems, referred to here as “perceptual technologies”. Duffy points out that for decades, technology has worked on developing algorithms and tools to track precise input and information while humans were the ones doing the thinking and the perceiving. The shift is now towards creating machines capable of precise measurement but also to able to determine the relative state of a situation and use this information to trigger an action.

The posts then delve into the possibility of improving machine learning by allowing the computer to experience how we see the world. When interacting humans implicitly evaluate others’ behaviour to be able to understand their emotions and intentions.
For instance, we may observe the listener’s posture or eye gaze to infer how interested they are in the conversation, but how could this be implemented in machine learning?
Duffy provides a simple example to explain this concept such as the idea of having an interactive screen (fish tank) with a series of targets (fish) that will react to specific people’s actions. If the person is getting closer to the screen the fish will come closer to the surface but, if the individual gets too close the fish will retreat, additionally, if people pass too quickly in front of the screen the fish won’t appear. The implementation of these types of applications enable the machine learning process and will aid the computer in understanding how we see the world ultimately making the experience more intuitive and more human. 

Duffy also pictures a future in which these implicit technologies will be embedded in many parts of our life. We all saw glimpses of this in movies such as Minority Report (2002) in which the main character enters a room and is targeted by personal advertising; and this notion is already not too far removed from our present daily reality.  
We can also see it in our environment, it won’t be long until our devices (e.g., car) will be able to sense and identify both our presence and intent and then respond with a congruent action (e.g., parking). Technology is, literally, opening doors and differently from the past developers already have the tools to build these type of systems and the technologies at the base of this area of computing are the internet of things, perceptual technologies and cloud computing.

                                                                  Intel® RealSense™ Technology

                                                                  Intel® RealSense™ Technology

Since 2013 Mindsee has been working towards the goal of developing a system able to understand the implicit state of the user engaged in a scientific literature task; and Bob Duffy’s post show how relevant perceptual technologies have become and how important applications like Mindsee will be in the close future


  • Duffy, B (2015) -
  • Duffy, B (2016) - 


A Visual History of Human Knowledge

In this TED talk, infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the history of information visualisation. Since the beginning of times humans had the urge to rank, create an order and visualise information. Originally people used the metaphor of a tree to map family relationships, animal species or the realms of human knowledge. However knowledge cannot always be represented in such way: it is too complex, intricate and interdependent. 

The metaphor that better represents knowledge is not a tree but a matrix, a network or a web. Hierarchy can show you the internal structure of an organisation, while a network is able to show the relationships and the connections between its members. Network visualisation is becoming a syntax of a new language and the same matrix model, such as the radial converge, can be use to represent the most disparate things: from DNA to Facebook networks.

Matrices and network seems to be able to embody the notion of decentralisation, non linearity, interconnectedness, interdependence and multiplicity. Manuel Lima believes that this way of thinking will help us solving a number o problems: from decoding the brain to understanding the universe.



MindSee partners at the 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society

The 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) took place on August 25-29, 2015 in Milan, Italy. The conference covers many topics, from Biomedical Signal Processing to Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering, Biomechanics, from Robotics to Biosensors and Bio-Micro/Nano Technologies.  The conference remarks the central role of BME in the improvement and innovation of health care (with a direct impact on the quality of life) but also focuses on how to reach and maintain a “wellness” through proper and advanced technologies, devices and protocols.

Three papers were accepted and presented at the conference, resulting from work conducted by MindSee partners at Technische Universität Berlin.


The full program and papers are available here

38th International ACM SIGIR Conference

MindSee related work was presented this August (9th - 13th) at the 38th International ACM SIGIR Conference in Santiago, Chile. SIGIR 2015 is a perfect theatre for Mindsee as it is a major international forum for the presentation of new research results and for the demonstration of new systems and techniques in Information Retrieval.

Mindsee partners at Aalto University presented their work at the main conference on Tuesday the 11th (SciNet: Interactive intent modeling for information discovery) as well as the at the conference's workshop (NeuroIR), focusing on Neuro-Physiological Methods in Information Retrieval Research. A paper (Predicting relevance of text from neuro-physiology ) as well as a demo session were delivered.

6th MindSee Consortium meeting & Exploitation/Innovation session

The next consortium meeting will see all partners from the MindSee project gathering in the town of Helsinki for a 2 day meeting on June 15th and 16th, 2015. Pia Erkinheimo from Digile,  will join the Exploitation and Innovation session that the consortium has organised for day 2, as an external expert and moderator to help the MindSee project with appropriate planning.

See you all in Helsinki!

Read More

101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication - the Changing Research Workflow

Jeroe Bosnam and Bianca Kramer from Utrecht University Library have recently presented a poster  with the intention to address the questions of what drives innovation in scholarly communication and how these innovations change research workflows and may contribute to more open, efficient and good science.

As they explain, changes in this landscape are driven by technology, policies, and culture, but in the end only take place because researchers and other stakeholders decide to adapt their workflows or recommend changes to others. As shown in the poster, the developing landscape is for an important part expressed through changing tool usage. New tools are constantly being developed by researchers themselves, small start-ups or big players, as reflected in the images above.

Attention decay in science

A recent article (March 2015) entitled 'Attention decay in science' concludes that "the exponential growth in the number of scientific papers makes it increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of all the publications relevant to their work".

"Consequently," the say, "the attention that can be devoted to individual papers, measured by their citation counts, is bound to decay rapidly". The risk here, in a time where the number of publications is booming, is to overlook important data and theories due to the much larger pool of papers among which attention has to be distributed and the limited capacity of scholars to keep track of it.

Apparently, the citation rate of papers increase just after publication to decrease rapidly after a few years. The authors specify that "the decay is also becoming faster over the years, signaling that nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly. However, when time is counted in terms of the number of published papers, the rate of decay of citations is fairly independent of the period considered. This indicates that the attention of scholars depends on the number of published items, and not on real time".