CURRENT PROJECTS

Spoken conversational research
This project will research a new interaction paradigm for search engines, where all input and output is mediated via speech. While such information systems have been important for the visually impaired for many years, a renewed focus on speech is emerging driven by the ever growing sales of internet enabled smart phones. The phones
allow internet access in new contexts that require both hands- and eyes-free interaction; one example being searching for information while driving. Also, smart phones are being accessed by a new and large population of users across the world many of whom struggle with literacy; again requiring access mediated by speech. Currently, search systems poorly serve such a mode. Recent research showed that one cannot just ‘bolt on’ speech recognisers and screen readers to an existing system: a fundamental change to the way search is conducted is required.Our Project Aim then is to research a new framework for effective information retrieval over a speech-only channel: Spoken Conversational Search (SCS), which provides a conversational approach to determining user information needs, presenting results, and enabling search reformulation.
 The project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage projects scheme (LP130100563) and is a joint collaboration between RMIT University and RealThing Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Job and Talent Search

This project plans to develop a new evaluation framework to understand and characterise web users and their situation within complex, multi-faceted search tasks, exemplified through job-search. While evaluation of web search engine effectiveness is relatively well understood, measuring information retrieval performance in the context of complex tasks with heterogeneous users is a largely neglected problem. This project plans to mine user-specific characteristics and situations from complex profiles and interaction logs for online information services run by the industry partner, SEEK. The new techniques are intended to redefine understanding of task-oriented search, and have the potential to reinvent the user experience for complex search tasks. This project will transform how practical search systems are measured within complex task scenarios. This will result in substantial economic impact by enabling businesses providing task-based search services to provide more customized offerings. Within the target domain (job search), this greatly enhances a service highly relevant to Australia’s productivity.

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage projects scheme (LP150100252) and is a joint collaboration between RMIT University, SEEK Ltd. and The University of Melbourne.