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IBM Research - Almaden
Active Calendar

Past Project
Information is now available in vast amounts from numerous sources on all topics. Getting physical access to that information is becoming easier and easier, but getting access to the right information at the right time is becoming harder and harder.

The main problem is how to match the requirements of the user to the available information. Finding the needle in the haystack has never been so important. Many powerful tools have been developed to help mitigate this problem, but users still have to initiate the work themselves, and often put significant time and effort into it. Often, the time is prohibitive or the users do not even know that the information is available.

We are proposing a new paradigm to match information to users’ needs through their personal calendars. Calendars are ubiquitous, and they already contain much of the personal information required to predict users’ needs. An Active Calendar analyzes entries of calendars, select from these entries relevant information sources, perform queries on these sources, and connect the results directly to the calendar. All of these actions are transparent to the users who just fill their calendars. More advanced users can customize the information sources, add actions, or otherwise control the active calendars using tools that our system provides.

For example, when you enter "meeting at 2pm with Smiley at XYZ-soft about Gadgetron," the active calendar will collect information about Smiley (e.g., phone and fax numbers, previous email messages), about XYZ-soft (e.g., current stock value, recent press releases, driving directions), and about Gadgetron (e.g., notes from previous meetings, general web search about this topic). This information will automatically become linked to the calendar entry. Active calendars can also email your spouse automatically whenever you schedule something late, remind all meeting participants 5 minutes before the meeting, send the minutes afterwards, update weather information and events for a destination city, fetch maps, etc. The current prototype works on top of the Lotus Notes calendar system.

Working Example
Here is a working example of the Active Calendar in our current implementation. It shows the Lotus Notes calendar form for a trip to Reno with information automatically generated by the Active Calendar system.

lotus calendar with information collected by Active Calendar

This data includes information about the destination airport, driving directions from the airport to the specified address and lists of hotels and restaurants at the destination. The user simply wrote "trip: city Reno state NV airport RNO address 400 Squaw Valley Rd" and the Active Calendar automatically augmented the entry with this information.

By following a URL stored in the calendar entry, a web browser is brought up showing a more detailed view of the information collected. Links are also provided that bring the user back to the original source of the information.
Hotel information provided by Active Calendar
   
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Active Calendar

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