Context-Aware Mobile Search Engine

Context-Aware Mobile Search Engine

Jawad Berri (College of Computing and Information Sciences, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia) and Rachid Benlamri (Lakehead University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0330-1.ch016
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Exploiting context information in a web search engine helps fine-tuning web services and applications to deliver custom-made information to end users. While context, including user and environment information, cannot be exploited efficiently in the wired Internet interaction type, it is becoming accessible with the mobile web where users have an intimate relationship with their handsets. In this type of interaction, context plays a significant role enhancing information search and therefore, allowing a search engine to detect relevant content in all digital forms and formats. This chapter proposes a context model and an architecture that promote integration of context information for individuals and social communities to add value to their interaction with the mobile web. The architecture relies on efficient knowledge management of multimedia resources for a wide range of applications and web services. The research is illustrated with a corporate case study showing how efficient context integration improves usability of a mobile search engine.
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1. Introduction

The emergence of mobile handsets as new means of information exchange has naturally enticed a need for search engines capable to search and retrieve information for nomadic users. The “mobile” trend has changed the user habits towards a more active involvement in dealing with information at hand. New services have been made available to satisfy mobile user needs in terms of information, entertainment and social networking (Loke, 2007). In this new landscape, further research work is needed to develop new search models that can make use of the various contextual elements including user’s social context. The new user-interaction needs to be more useful, custom-made and also entertaining.

In the last few years, much progress has been made to develop robust mobile search engines offering interesting services to users (Google, 2010; Yahoo, 2010; Taptu, 2010). Examples of such services are: (1) location-awareness where search engines offer services according to users’ location, privileging relevant local businesses and providing directions to each business location (Google, 2010; Yahoo, 2010); (2) voice speech search where search engines are equipped with speech recognition capabilities that allow efficient query-entry, thus avoiding the tedious task of typing the query on the mobile phone (Google, 2010; Taptu, 2010); and (3) multimedia interface where search engines provide access to various multimedia resources such as images, videos, maps, and games (Google, 2010; Yahoo, 2010; Taptu, 2010). Although, the progress made so far is significant, mobile search engines are still limited in their capabilities, and do not offer fine-tuned services that most users want. One of the features that have not been fully exploited by existing mobile search engines is the integration of context management to offer a real customized interaction experience. Context management allows a good understanding of user’s needs using their profile, current activity, interaction history, information dispensed to individuals and social communities, service adaptation to current user’s identity, and device adaptation.

This chapter addresses mainly the problem of context modeling and management in mobile search engines, showing how a rigorous context model can add value to the interaction of users, as individuals or communities. The research is illustrated with a corporate case study to show how efficient context integration improves the mobile application usability for individual users and social communities.

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