In-network Analysis of Social Interactions using Wireless Badges

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About In-network Analysis of Social Interactions using Wireless Badges


The aim of this master's project is to determine the extent to which wireless badges can be used to capture social interactions and provide insight into the social dynamics of crowds. Wireless badges are portable wireless embedded devices meant to be worn by people participating in a social event. The student will have access to a collection of these badges which, when handed to a group of people, can create a wireless network of mobile devices. With each badge representing one person in the crowd, the student will propose and test ways to measure the interaction between the participants. Current efforts have explored using packet reception as a way to determine social interaction. The student may enhance this method with other techniques (such as taking into account input from sensors.)

In addition to measuring the interactions at an individual level, the student should also explore the characteristics of the interactions at the "crowd" level. In other words, once the student has found a reliable way to measure the level of interaction of individual participants, the focus shifts to how each participant compares to the rest of the crowd. Intuitively, we can expect some individuals to be more social than others. Some may have different patterns of interaction (many short conversations, as opposed to a few long ones, for example.) We would like to be able to identify and classify individuals in the crowd according to predefined types of social behavior. This classification must be done within the network in real-time, using data exchanged and collected locally (at each wireless badge), as opposed to using a centralized approach (sending all data to a server for computation.)


The research approach for this project is very practical, requiring the student to program and deploy a network of wireless badges to test his/her proposals. A general understanding of social behavior within crowds is necessary to define ways to quantify social interactions and classify the behavior of the participants. The student is expected to look into previous work in this area, which might involve getting acquainted with the field of sociology.