services using natural language
The wider application of multimedia services means that it is important
to make them more understandable to people who have difficulties in dealing with modern
technologies. This is the background to the SUSTAINS project, which is attempting to
develop a human-machine interface for such situations.
SUSTAINS has the goal of improving the effectiveness of public information services and
is producing two applications for delivering medical information: a multimedia kiosk and
an Internet terminal. The multimedia kiosk, designed to run at hospitals and pharmacies,
enables users to consult medical records, book a hospital visit and so on. The Internet
application, carrying out the same services, is being developed to run on a standard
Internet browser for use in the home.
SUSTAINS is developing a user-friendly front end to the system database, which
questions the information system using the language of the person using the system.
Another development, the Interface Manager, will manage the dialogue between the front-end
and the user. Key to this component is the Interface Manager's ability to define a
specific dialogue path for each user, depending on the user's reply to initial questions.
The dialogue path takes the user's level of ability into consideration in devising this
A prototype multimedia kiosk is on show on the SUSTAINS stand together with personal
computer based demonstrators of Internet access to several healthcare databases.