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Comprehensive Public Information Services System for the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing

With support by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).


The project aims at integrating advanced technologies of the project consortium members to create a high-tech information system that helps visitors to access information services during the 2008 Olympic Games and to overcome language barriers. We call this information service platform COMPASS 2008 (COMprehensive Public informAtion Services System for the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing). To set up COMPASS 2008 the project does not only include the conception of such a service system but also the integration of the contributing technologies and the practical deployment of the resulting system in Beijing. The project concludes with a practical field trial and its evaluation.

This two-year project started in October 2004. After two successful project years, it has just been extended until September 2007. Prof. Dr. Hans Uszkoreit, scientific director at DFKI, is the coordinator of the project.

In the last two years, we have developed a truly novel type of mobile computer programs that will assist foreign tourists in their communication with Chinese people. The software is an electronic phrase book and a translation aid but at the same time a powerful multilingual information system connected to numerous services via the Internet. It effectively helps visitors to navigate through the streets, temples and shopping centers of the Beijing megalopolis.

In July 2006 the program was successfully tested by tourists from several countries in a field-test in Beijing under realistic conditions. Equipped with the new software on a palmtop computer the test subjects faced typical challenges for a nonnative visitor. After the test they all praised the system. Without speaking a word of Chinese themselves, they could give directions to cab drivers, search for sights, order food and ask for directions. Since the system "knows" the location of the user through GPS satellite connection, it can adapt the advice to the place. Even in emergency situations, when the lack of language skills can really be critical, the electronic assistant could offer effective help.

The test users explicitly lauded the ease of handling. They could operate the system after a few minutes of instructions without any handbooks or help files although some of them had never used a palmtop before. Moreover, they even had fun with the system. They especially enjoyed browsing in the picture galleries and detailed descriptions of Chinese dishes.

The new software was also met with enthusiastic comments by the Chinese communication partners. They immediately grasped the benefits of the new technology for smooth mutual understanding. Some taxi drivers who usually suffer quite a bit from language problems wanted to buy the system on the spot. Owners of restaurants offered to submit changes of their menus to the information service and merchants in stores enjoyed the facilities of the software for effective bargaining.

The program runs on palmtop computers (PDAs), intelligent mobile phones (e.g., MDA Pro), laptop computers and regular PCs. It was developed in the German-Chinese project COMPASS 2008, a research action within the Digital Olympics framework.

The utilization of the new technologies will surely not end with the 2008 Olympics. The communication problems of visitors to the Olympic Games are typical challenges that all foreign tourists and participants in international mega-events are faced with. The software can easily be extended and adapted to new languages and situations.

To learn more about COMPASS, take a look at our goals and partners.

Project participants also have access to the Internal section of this website.

If you are a COMPASS member, you should have received a login to this website. Log in to complete your profile, view restricted information and publish your research results.

Created by xiwen
Last modified 2007-05-22 04:30 PM

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