Semantic Web tools are not commonplace yet, but they’ve reached the early adopter stage. Not only you can find new friends, but you also can design new cars.

The semantic tools provided by the EU-funded WIDE project allow designers and engineers to collaborate over the Web even if they don’t share a common technical language and come from various cultures. This approach is very different from traditional knowledge management ones which often force all the people involved to speak the same language.

Here is a quote from the IST Results article.

Designers and engineers who collaborate in the automobile industry have totally different backgrounds and use different terminologies. They deal with several types of complex information related to patents, legislative requirements, engine re-design, emission standards and test cycles.

Below is an example of this collaboration (Credit: WIDE project).

WIDE motivation

Here are some of the objectives of the WIDE project.

WIDE aims to improve innovative product design by applying emerging Semantic Web (SW) techniques to develop and test an effective information management and knowledge sharing system for multi-disciplinary design teams. The WIDE system will support the effective and efficient inter-working of industrial designers and engineers by offering a natural and coherent environment.

And here is a diagram showing the WIDE architecture (Credit: WIDE project).

WIDE visualizuation interface

So how does the current prototype work?

The use of conventional information retrieval technology does not support the semantics of the application task. Neyir Sevilmis from the coordinating organisation, the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, explains further: “We took a semantic Web-based approach because semantic Web technologies are quite promising and offer new possibilities in the field of knowledge management, retrieval effectiveness and online collaboration.”

“The WIDE prototype provides a single user interface, but is a multi-user system,” says Sevilmis. “It is designed to be used in engineering processes by heterogeneous development teams.”

Below is an example of the visualization interface showing some semantical results on a graph (Credit: WIDE project).

WIDE visualization interface

But what is the future of this project? Several new projects are already funded by the European Union, such as the AIM@SHAPE project (Advanced and Innovative Models And Tools for the development of Semantic-based systems for Handling, Acquiring, and Processing knowledge Embedded in multidimensional digital objects).

Finally, the above illustrations have been extracted from this flyer (PDF format, 2 pages, 319 KB). And for more information and additional details, you also should read this document about the objectives (PDF format, 2 pages, 268 KB) of the WIDE project and this technical paper, “Agents and P2P architectures to manage distributed complex queries in the Semantic Web” (PDF format, 14 pages, 2.17 MB)

Sources: IST Results, February 16, 2006; and WIDE web site

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