Section: Research Program

Situation Models

Situation Modelling, Situation Awareness, Probabilistic Description Logistics

The objectives of this research area are to develop and refine new computational techniques that improve the reliability and performance of situation models, extend the range of possible application domains, and reduce the cost of developing and maintaining situation models. Important research challenges include developing machine-learning techniques to automatically acquire and adapt situation models through interaction, development of techniques to reason and learn about appropriate behaviors, and the development of new algorithms and data structures for representing situation models.

Pervasive Interaction will address the following research challenges:

Techniques for learning and adapting situation models: Hand crafting of situation models is currently an expensive process requiring extensive trial and error. We will investigate combination of interactive design tools coupled with supervised and semi-supervised learning techniques for constructing initial, simplified prototype situation models in the laboratory. One possible approach is to explore developmental learning to enrich and adapt the range of situations and behaviors through interaction with users.

Reasoning about actions and behaviors: Constructing systems for reasoning about actions and their consequences is an important open challenge. We will explore integration of planning techniques for operationalizing actions sequences within behaviors, and for constructing new action sequences when faced with unexpected difficulties. We will also investigate reasoning techniques within the situation modeling process for anticipating the consequences of actions, events and phenomena.

Algorithms and data structures for situation models: In recent years, we have experimented with an architecture for situated interaction inspired by work in human factors. This model organises perception and interaction as a cyclic process in which directed perception is used to detect and track entities, verify relations between entities, detect trends, anticipate consequences and plan actions. Each phase of this process raises interesting challenges questions algorithms and programming techniques. We will experiment alternative programming techniques representing and reasoning about situation models both in terms of difficulty of specification and development and in terms of efficiency of the resulting implementation. We will also investigate the use of probabilistic graph models as a means to better accommodate uncertain and unreliable information. In particular, we will experiment with using probabilistic predicates for defining situations, and maintaining likelihood scores over multiple situations within a context. Finally, we will investigate the use of simulation as technique for reasoning about consequences of actions and phenomena.

Probabilistic Description Logics: In our work, we will explore the use of probabilistic predicates for representing relations within situation models. As with our earlier work, entities and roles will be recognized using multi-modal perceptual processes constructed with supervised and semi-supervised learning [Brdiczka 07], [Barraquand 12]. However, relations will be expressed with probabilistic predicates. We will explore learning based techniques to probabilistic values for elementary predicates, and propagate these through probabilistic representation for axioms using Probabilistic Graphical Models and/or Bayesian Networks.

The challenges in this research area will be addressed through three specific research actions covering situation modelling in homes, learning on mobile devices, and reasoning in critical situations.

Learning Routine patterns of activity in the home.

The objective of this research action is to develop a scalable approach to learning routine patterns of activity in a home using situation models. Information about user actions is used to construct situation models in which key elements are semantic representations of time, place, social role and actions. Activities are encoded as sequences of situations. Recurrent activities are detected as sequences of activities that occur at a specific time and place each day. Recurrent activities provide routines what can be used to predict future actions and anticipate needs and services. An early demonstration has been to construct an intelligent assistant that can respond to and filter communications.

This research action is carried out as part of the doctoral research of Julien Cumin in cooperation with researchers at Orange labs, Meylan. Results are to be published at Ubicomp, Ambient intelligence, Intelligent Environments and IEEE Transactions on System Man and Cybernetics. Julien Cumin will complete and defend his doctoral thesis in 2018.

Learning Patterns of Activity with Mobile Devices

The objective of this research action is to develop techniques to observe and learn recurrent patterns of activity using the full suite of sensors available on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Most mobile devices include seven or more sensors organized in 4 groups: Positioning Sensors, Environmental Sensors, Communications Subsystems, and Sensors for Human-Computer Interaction. Taken together, these sensors can provide a very rich source of information about individual activity.

In this area we explore techniques to observe activity with mobiles devices in order to learn daily patterns of activity. We will explore supervised and semi-supervised learning to construct systems to recognize places and relevant activities. Location and place information, semantic time of day, communication activities, inter-personal interactions, and travel activities (walking, driving, riding public transportation, etc.) are recognized as probabilistic predicates and used to construct situation models. Recurrent sequences of situations will be detected and recorded to provide an ability to predict upcoming situations and anticipate needs for information and services.

Our goal is to develop a theory for building context aware services that can be deployed as part of the mobile applications that companies such as SNCF and RATP use to interact with clients. For example, a current project concerns systems that observe daily travel routines for the Paris region RATP metro and SNCF commuter trains. This system learns individual travel routines on the mobile device without the need to divulge information about personal travel to a cloud based system. The resulting service will consult train and metro schedules to assure that planned travel is feasible and to suggest alternatives in the case of travel disruptions. Similar applications are under discussion for the SNCF inter-city travel and Air France for air travel.

This research action is conducted in collaboration with the Inria Startup Situ8ed. The current objective is to deploy and evaluate a first prototype App during 2017. Techniques will be used commercially by Situ8ed for products to be deployed as early as 2019.


[Brdiczka 07] O. Brdiczka, "Learning Situation Models for Context-Aware Services", Doctoral Thesis of the INPG, 25 may 2007.

[Barraquand 12] R. Barraquand, "Design of Sociable Technologies", Doctoral Thesis of the University Grenoble Alps, 2 Feb 2012.