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Machines that watch and filter information for you.

October 5, 2006
Engadget has unearthed an interesting piece of research from that evolves a prototype of a service that creates a personalised virtual news service. The research is being done by the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University of Illinois and they have pieced together an encompassing service, currently called News @ 7, that plays into something I’m a strong advocate of, machines that watch for you.
What’s impressive is about News @ 7 is that they use the Half Life 2 engine to create a virtual news presenter and news rooms, which is a little like creating auto Machinima in a way. Unlike services such as the virtual reader that used to be on, this automated system gathers information from various sources on the web and puts it together for the user instead of by humans. They also get information from the Blogosphere and virtualise the feed from the blog to be read by a virtual representation of that Blogger (currently demoed by Half Life 2 characters).
There are 2 videos on the University site, one of a demonstration of what News @ 7 looks like and another of a report by ABC News.
Whilst the ABC news commentator Dan Harris, may mock the service in his closing remarks, the web has demonstrated a huge impact on existing media services as people are hungry to get information from multiple sources on a topic and the Blogosphere acts as natural aggregator and filter of this information. Media companies know this and are desperate to retain their old media ways by latching onto any new Internet technology that becomes a trend. A classic example of this is how some radio stations podcast existing radio content instead of supplementing their broadcasts with complimentary content.
The power of services like News @ 7 from a mobile perspective is that you will have systems that aggregate and filter to your personal choices, then deliver that information to you on whatever device you want to retrieve it from. This information will be in rich media versus just the text feeds we read now on mobiles.
Professor Chris Hammond states at the end of the ABC News interview that ""Information is supposed to be something that can be linked to your life".
I look forward to the not so distant future where as I drive home from work, my mobile reads and visually shows me my Blog feeds in a personalised form and then when I get home the service parades the new TV/web video content it has discovered and recorded for me so I watch what I want, when I want, where ever I want.
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