International Journal of Pervasive
Computing and Communications
Vol. 6 No. 2, 2010
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Gentle supervisory system based
on integration of environmental
information and social knowledge
Hideyuki Takahashi, Kazuhiro Yamanaka, Satoru Izumi,
Yoshikazu Tokairin, Takuo Suganuma, and Norio Shiratori
Research Institute of Electrical Communication/Graduate School of
Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Purpose – Real-time multimedia supervisory systems generally include a distributed system that
delivers live video input captured with cameras at the watched person’s site, using a PC or hand-held
device at the distant supervisor’s site. The system comprises many entities such as cameras for image
capture, transmission software, network connections, receiver software, a display device, multimedia
processing software and hardware, control software, etc. The purpose of this paper is to realize a safe
and convenient supervisory system that autonomously provides users with services that fulfill users’
requirements related to quality and privacy in a ubiquitous information environment.
Design/methodology/approach – A system is designed by integrating environmental information
acquired from the real world and knowledge related to human social activities. A real space
understanding mechanism is proposed to infer the situations and relationships of users by combining
sensing information and social knowledge. Social knowledge related to human relationships, the life
style of the watched person, home structure, etc. is used with ontology to infer the situations of users.
Findings – An early prototype was implemented for supervising elderly people and some
experiments were performed based on several scenarios. Results obtained from some experiments
confirmed that this supervisory system can provide real-time multimedia supervisory services for
elderly people, with reasonable quality-of-service and privacy that meet the users’ requirements.
Originality/value – The system described in this paper assesses the situation of users and
surrounding environmental information to provide appropriate supervisory services. This paper
provides insight into the design and development of ubiquitous application systems to realize
comfortable and safe services using a combination of environmental information and social knowledge.
Keywords Elder care, Surveillance, Social services sector, Computer applications,
Social environment, Communication technologies
Paper type Research paper
Recent reports have described several challenging studies of ubiquitous computing
environments for daily life support (Yamazaki, 2005; Minoh and Yamazaki, 2006; Ma
et al., 2005; Takata et al., 2006). In this context, real-time multimedia supervisory
systems, connected by wide-area networks, are widely used as a care-support system
to watch over children and elderly people from a remote site. Studies are at their initial
stages of applying systems to a ubiquitous computing environment (Camarinha-Matos
and Afsarmanesh, 2005; Sedky et al., 2005; Consolvo et al., 2004). Using physical
positional information of the target, some systems have delivered video streaming from
a selected camera that is nearest the target person (Takemoto et al., 2005; de Silva et al.,
2005). In addition, some studies have evaluated flexible displays that play a video
seamlessly from the nearest display device to the observer based on the watcher’s
location (Cui et al., 2004; Lohse et al., 2005).
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This work was partially supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grants-in-Aid
for Scientific Research, 17500029 and 19200005.