Internet multimedia applications for mobile devices: the case of electronic tourist guides
Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου. Σχολή Κοινωνικών Επιστημών. Τμήμα Πολιτισμικής Τεχνολογίας και Επικοινωνίας.
Mobile Tourist Guides (MTGs) have attracted considerable research interest during the past decade resulting in numerous standalone and web-based mobile applications. MTGs enhance the tourism experience of users, even more so by incorporating features like interactive maps and location-based services. However, there are issues that still hinder the wide use and market success of such technologies. Not only are there usability issues when designing for mobile devices, like device capabilities, screen size and input methods; one must also take into account the compatibility issues among web and mobile web platforms and the cost of use of such technologies for tourists. Furthermore, the mobile phone is still evolving which brings about problems in the making of standards. This calls for solutions which can compensate for the constraints of mobile browser capabilities and the lack of device standards compliance. One of the first objectives of the research work described in this thesis has been to record and evaluate the tools which can be used to create full-fledged mobile multimedia applications and evaluate research and commercial mobile applications used by tourists for information provision, navigation, guidance or entertainment. Through this evaluation we have derived a set of design guidelines for a tourist platform which can be used by tourists on and off the web in either a static or mobile environment. Using those guidelines as stepping stones, we have developed a research prototype, a multi-platform tourist framework that uses the web to promote cultural information to mobile tourists. This framework allows for tourists to tag content of personal interest; following this, the users are prompted to build a personalized mobile application which can run on their mobile phone either in standalone mode or using the web to get access to additional services. Among other things, particular emphasis has been given to the personalisation of services through designing and implementing an innovative recommendation system used to assist tourists in choosing places to visit. Unlike existing systems, our “recommender” system exploits specific information, behaviours, ideas, evaluations, assessments, ratings, and so on of other tourists with similar interests, which then provides ground for the cooperative production of tourist content and travel recommendations. In addition, we extend this notion of travel “recommender” systems utilizing context-aware collaborative filtering techniques for deriving improved recommendations. We also propose the use of Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) installations around tourist sites with the aim of providing mobile users convenient and inexpensive means for uploading tourist information and ratings about Points of Interest (POIs) via their mobile devices. User ratings uploaded through WSN infrastructures are weighted higher in order to differentiate between users that rate POIs using the mobile tourist guide application in direct proximity of the POI and others using the web, away from the POI. A final contribution this doctoral research attempts to fulfil deals with the problem of deriving personalized recommendations for daily sightseeing itineraries for tourists visiting any destination. Our approach considers selected POIs that a traveller would potentially wish to visit and derives a near-optimal itinerary for each day of their visit; the places of potential interest are selected based on stated or implied user preferences. Our method enables the planning of customized daily personalised tourist itineraries considering user preferences, time availability for visiting sights in daily basis, opening days of sights and average visiting times for these sights.