RELATE - Evaluating the usefulness of adhoc relative positioning devices for collaboration

Hans Gellersen
Rolf Ingold
Denis Lalanne
Dominique Guinard
Project status: 

Overview of the Relate Project

  • Keywords :

Context-aware computing, mobile computing, spatially-aware interfaces, spatial relations, location systems, sensor networks, ad hoc networks, computer-supported cooperative work.

  • Context of the Relate Europeean Project:

This master thesis is to be achieved by the Mobile and ubiquitous computing lab of the Computing Department at the University of Lancaster (northern UK). The goal of this thesis is to work on the Relate Europeean project. This master thesis is to be achieved by the Mobile and ubiquitous computing lab of the Computing Department at the University of Lancaster (northern UK). The goal of the thesis is to work for the Relate project. This European project involves 6 universities and engineering schools. Its motto is to study the means and benefits of relative positioning for mobile devices and object. It focuses on the spatial arrangement of the devices and objects, free of surrounding infrastructure. The research programme of the project addresses the following aspects:

  • measurement of the spatial relationship between mobile objects with embedded sensors
  • scalable communication and organisation for ad hoc networks of relative positioning devices
  • algorithms for distribution localization in sensor networks
  • architecture and software platforms for relative positioning system

The initial stages of the project have been concerned with creating sensing technologies and systems appropriate for collaborative positioning on surfaces. Such systems are particularly relevant in the fields of mobile computing, computer-supported cooperative work, and user interfaces, where the locations and orientations of objects on surfaces are often required. In the systems were developed, small, wireless devices perform peer-to-peer sensing and produce relative location and orientation estimates without relying on pre-existing infrastructure.

Description of the Master Thesis

The Relate project comprises many researcher and students at various levels (undergraduates, graduates, PhD.). Thus, the presented Master thesis will consist of working on a single, personal project but rather work with the Relate team in order to explore and improve the functionalities and technologies for relative positioning of mobile objects in ad hoc networks. However, the particular work for this thesis will focus on two different aspects:

  • HCI (Human Computer Interactions): For this first aspect, the real benefits of relative positioning from the user view-point (for instance for collaborative tasks) have to be both empirically (wizard-of-oz tests, real condition testing, etc.) and theoretically (application of rules of ergonomics, user-centred design, integration with the IM2 project etc.) explored. This first focus point comprises the design and implementation of a well-finished application demonstrating the benefits of the ad hoc relative positioning network created by the wireless dongles.
  • Software Engineering: This aspect aims to improve the underlying software framework. The exact content of this latter part will depend on the particular needs and evolutions of the different projects. However, a contribution to the creation of a clean middleware layer (in terms of Software Engineering good practises) is one of the goals. This would permit to federate, filter and abstract the positioning observations in order to provide a standardized access to these to higher-level application software. Another fairly interesting part of this aspect could be to work on the seamless integration of services (such file servers, media players, printing services, etc.) with the relative positioning.

Related Links

Official website of the Relate Europeean Project:

Personal homepage of Dominique Guinard:

Video of the Relate Project:

Related Articles

Gerd Kortuem, Christian Kray, Hans Gellersen. Sensing and Visualizing Spatial Relations of Mobile Devices. Proc. ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2005), Seattle, Washington, USA, ACM Press, Download PDF Version

Mike Hazas, Christian Kray, Hans Gellersen, Henoc Agbota, Gerd Kortuem, Albert Krohn. A Relative Positioning System for Co-Located Devices. Proc. of ACM Intl. Conf. On Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys), June 2005, Boston, USA, ACM Press Download PDF Version