Conversation centric applications

Faculty: Aaditeshwar Seth, Huzur Saran, Sanjiva Prasad


Collaborators: Avaya Labs


Students: Piyush Goyal, Ankit Sharma, Apoorva Gupta, Anupam, Nitin Garg


Projects: When the Internet architecture was being conceived, communication was considered as a way to exchange data between a pair of hosts, primarily for resource sharing. The Internet is now presently looked upon more as a means of content sharing where the building block is now a content object. So we can talk about publishing content or fetching content, and the network takes care of locating individual content objects, replicating them, and delivering them irrespective of their origination location. The future, we argue, is around considering conversations as fundamental building blocks of communication. We are already seeing this on online social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, where content is posted in response to other content. Potentially, the content may even be multimodal, comprised of videos, images, voice recordings, and such. A number of interesting applications can be conceived around this construct:

  • Voice-based social networking: We are using the Asterisk PBX server to have people call in, leave voice recordings about anything interesting they would like to share with their friends, listen to recordings left by their friends, post comments in response, etc. Essentially a Facebook, but in voice! And all this along with a web based interface to also go over their conversations, tag them, and add photographs.
  • Graphical interfaces to enhance voice applications: Suppose you have an Android phone that is capable of delivering rich graphics to you. How can you present a graphical interface in synchronization with a voice-based phone call so that the visual components of a multimodal conversation can be browsed on the phone? Can this improve the traditional clunky IVR interface of voice applications?
  • Rural search and publish/subscribe: How can we search and index conversations in progress in rural areas? We need interfaces to be able to publish conversations into the content distribution system, get updates about conversations, subscribe to tags or categories to have partial indexes replicated locally, and issue fetch requests to download data, all in the absence of end-to-end Internet connectivity.