Interview with Prof. Fethi Rabhi, ICCASA 2014 TPC Chair

Prof. Fethi Rabhi, University of New South Wales, (Australia), TPC Chair of the 3rd International Conference on Context-Aware Systems and Applications – ICCASA 2014 shares with us his reflections on the conference and its main topic. Prof. Rabhi answers to the three questions highlighting the importance of research on Context Aware Systems (CAS) and underlining its interdisciplinary essence.

Fethi Rabhi
Prof. Fethi Rabhi, ICCASA 2014 TPC Chair

What was your overall impression of ICCASA 2014? Which big questions have emerged from the discussions at the conference?

I have been involved in the organization of the conference from the start, from the issuing of the call for papers to the papers selection.  My impression from the papers and the interests received is that this topic is growing in importance and there is a lot to do in trying to combine knowledge emerging from different perspectives and get a meaningful dialogue between people coming from different backgrounds.

The research on CAS has multi-disciplinary dimensions (engineering, business, medicine, etc.). What are the main challenges for the confluence of several disciplines? What are the common points?

The main challenges are in developing a common understanding about such systems since every discipline tends to use its own language and terminology.  In addition, conducting research in such a multidisciplinary setting is a challenge by itself as most resources tend to be allocated to one field only, so there are just a few incentives to encourage researchers from different fields to collaborate with each other.  For the common points, I see many opportunities to develop new business models and applications that can have profound effects on the ways we live our personal lives and conduct businesses.  This is a powerful incentive for many young researchers to work in this area.

In which way can CAS alter our daily lives?

There is no doubt that there is proliferation of apps and services which offer a bewildering choice to consumers, so the next revolution will be in the way consumers and services are matched based on contextual information.  This will give rise to new ways in which we consume personal services.  For example, the range of Financial Products & Services made available to personal investors has exploded over the recent years offering different investment options that can meet their specific preferences.  However, the uptake of such products has been very small because of customers’ confusion.  Similar situations exist in areas such as health, tourism and retail. New developments in context aware systems will give a chance for customers to get products and services that are tailored to their needs in a seamless and transparent manner.