The Project LOBAS aims to create a Location Based Service (LBS) Provider. The provider can be seen as a broker that connects suppliers of services located in specific points and clients (e.g. pinpointing stores, transportation, banks) that may desire specific services at their present location (e.g. special promotion, offers). This concept is the basis for a wide commercial exploitation that can explore several markets, targeting from individuals to corporations with different kinds of services. One part of the project is development of the technical solution to be used: MAGENTA aims to explore, develop and deliver relevant software packages, solutions and products based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to support and automate service search and negotiations between client and supplier agents acting on behalf of both, according to previously-configured criteria (e.g. distance, price, negotiation margin). Beyond this technical development the resulting system shall be used in concrete business cases and a concrete trial will be performed using a selected test scenario. The business cases and the business plan for the commercial deployment will also be developed under this project. |
LOBAS system architecture is divided in two major parts: the LOBAS server and the Pocket PC / PDA application. In the LOBAS server all information is stored regarding the service providers and the corresponding services/products. There will be a representative entity for each mobile client connected to the server and a GIS (Geographical Information Service) where all information related to maps will be stored. All service providers will access the LOBAS server via a web interface. In this interface it will be possible to define all product and services offered. Artificial intelligent algorithms will be used in the LOBAS server to help both clients and services in product's negotiations. The mobile device application will allow to receive satellite position from the GPS system (GPS component module) and establish communication with the LOBAS server (Communication Component module). The mobile device application will have a secondary storage in order to keep information about received maps, product and services receipts, subscriptions and other additional information. The application will have special mechanisms like power managing (activate/deactivate GPS and communications modules), use of ciphered communication, and others.
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The project is divided in 3 main tasks: Task 1 - Technical feasibility, Analysis and Demonstration
including the definition of the user requirements, the technical feasibility analysis and the trial Task 2 - Development
consisting of the definition of the software requirements, the architectural design and the software development Task 3 - Commercial feasibility analysis
The key issues are:
- Mobility: the project is oriented to mobility technology,
- Pocket PC - wireless device: a Pocket PC is used as the mobile device,
- Service provider: LOBAS provide to user mobile clients a set of products and/or services from providers,
- Location based systems: Using a GPS module in the mobile device allows the receiving of services' information based on a client's position,
- GPRS communication: The GPRS communication is used between all mobile clients and the LOBAS server,
- GPS positioning: The GPS system is used to get client's position.
The main benefits of the LOBAS project are to:
- Provide a global service where a set of services can offer their products, services, promotions, and others,
- Provide a location based system access to all Pocket PC mobile users,
- Provide client's position via GPS module and integrate this information with the server,
- Possibilities of creating services that are location dependent. Mobile user will receive information about these services if they were near the service,
- Better and automatic negotiations using Artificial Intelligence techniques,
- Possibility of displaying services and client's current position in a graphical map (in the Pocket PC).
The activity was completed in June 2003. Taking into account the original objectives, requirements and intended system capabilities versus the work performed and results achieved, the initial goals were fulfilled completely. The software characteristics initially proposed were further refined, implemented, tested and demonstrated in a 1-month trial involving a potential customer. The development concluded with a change of the target platform from embedded Visual Basic into embedded '.NET' to avoid the risk of developing LOBAS in a platform older than Pocket PC2002. The latest PDAs have this new '.NET' technology that allows direct access to peripherals (GPS, GPRS cards) while reducing the cost of maintaining the PDA software in the future and being able to install it in new devices with new versions of the Pocket PC OS. The trial demonstration was focused on a Location Based Service commonly referred as Field Force Location Management: companies that operate with mobile work forces: pre-sales, sales, distribution of goods, repairs, engineering, and others. In the specific case of the field trial: entities that perform the service of goods transportation and deliveries. The objective of the trial was to identify the location of the mobile workers, to execute real time management and to follow-up their tasks. The worker has been equipped with a PDA mounted in his car while a web interface was used to configure services and follow the performance of the workers. The trial demonstrated that the concept and the PDA worked well in concrete daily working situations, like following in real-time the package deliveries performed by the worker, sending him new customer requests, being the selection made in function of the nearest worker available and automatically. Future perspectives include new trials with other companies while the one that participated in the trial has shown interest in the final product.
Last Update: 27 Apr 2006