MobHinter and IS4.MOBI
The original idea. MobHinter was originally proposed at RecSys 2008 Conference (held in Lausanne), the most important venue for the scientific community working on recommender systems. Our approach was based on a decentralized collaborative filtering strategy tailored for the mobile domain. The exploitation of human mobility and self-organizing nature of user similarity networks lets the information epidemically spread by way of ad-hoc and opportunistic communications. Accuracy of recommendations in such a setting is proved to be comparable to the centalized case, if the diffusion of mobile devices running mobhinter is assumed.
P2P or not P2P? Rapidly, the original idea evolved and the motivations for a pure decentralized architecture changed accordingly to a modified scenario where wireless connectivity to the broadband Internet is available almost everywhere in urban areas. Of course, decentralization can still help to preserve privacy because a peer-to-peer architecture does not need to delegate a central authority the control of the whole system. Moreover, we think that the epidemic/opportunistic strategy of MobHinter can improve efficiency for a wider set of services where privacy is not necessarily the most relevant issue. For example, geo-social services need rapid spreading of information on a geographic proximity basis, and timely advertising and notification of context-aware. We think that such features can be served more efficiently with a hybrid P2P/centralized architecture.
Connection to IS4.MOBI. In the last years, the mobile scenario changed dramatically. No one can assume a service to be pervasive if the proposed application runs only on a given device or OS. The service must be multi-platform and we cannot rely on peculiar features furnished by a single smart-phone manufacturer. This is the reason why our research problem falls in the area of interest of IS4.MOBI, whose main goal is the identification of a framework for rapid development of multi-platform mobile applications. Current implementation of MobHinter makes use of PhoneGap, that is a HTML 5 based framework, which reduces the development of code tailored for a given device. Native Android add-ons are available with the source code. The code is released as part of one of the deliverables of the project.