Smart Products

With the advent of new research areas, such as Ubiquitous Computing, Ambient Computing, and Ambient Intelligence, digital media and physical environments increasingly merge into homogenous interaction environments. A natural result of this convergence is the introduction of new product types that integrate physical with informational presences.

Those products will become interactive, adaptive, context-sensitive, personalised, pro-active, business-aware and relational. A basic requirement is that products can be referenced on information level which allows for grounding of product description in physical presences. Automatic identification technologies, such as RFID and EPCglobal Architecture Framework, are base-level technologies for Smart Products.

After that, products will become context-sensitive, personalised and pro-active. This will require extended sensor-data processing capabilities on input side for identification, evaluation, and tracking of entities in environments and actuator capabilities on output side for pro-active and reactive interactions.

Results from different areas, such as agent-based systems, robotics, machine learning, and mechatronics will be required for intelligent processing of contextual information.

A Smart Product is able to:

  • explain themselve to customers in buying situations in form of a dialogue
  • discuss solutions with technicians in service situations
  • actively communicate with business processes
  • dynamically set up relationships with other products and supporting services.


Dialogue interaction between customers and products encompasses the capability for improved filtering and presentation of relevant product information in in-store shopping situations. Thus, information needs of customers can be addressed more intuitively. In order to realize such interaction, dialogue systems and comprehensive knowledge representations are necessary such as product information, linguistic representations and user reviews. Because of their heterogeneous nature and diverse semantics these product-related knowledge resources have to be bundled and linked to enable standardized information access. The semantic middleware Tip 'n Tell 2 (TnT2) is able to manage semantic knowledge sources and to combine them to a single knowledge base (Maass & Filler, 2006; Janzen et al., 2011).

The OSGi-based middleware allows the dynamic linkage of product-related knowledge resources for dialogue interaction in in-store shopping situations. Multiple heterogeneous knowledge resources are bundled by a Semantic Mediator that enables standardized access to different types of product-centered knowledge resources. Furthermore, the mapping of product descriptions of diverse formats, e.g., BMEcat, into the product ontology Smart Product Description Object (SPDO) can be handled. This standardized ontological product description of physical products formalized in OWL is dynamically updated and extended via Jena Rules. To realize the dialogue interaction between customers and products at the point of sale, the pool of SPDOs is dynamically linked with an ontological linguistic knowledge base of the dialogue system CoRA (Conversational Recommendation Agent) (Janzen et al., 2010, Janzen & Maass, 2009; Janzen & Maass, 2008) that represents an OSGi bundle of TnT2. We apply ontologies as non-linguistic and linguistic core knowledge components of the dialogue system. The semantic knowledge is merged automatically with external non-semantic contents. This is enabled by a high level semantic query language that maps ontological data into Java structures and thus allows object-oriented querying of semantic data.

Related Projects

SmaProN, T®ASH, more4less, SmAsh, SP-Tiger, ICE-Goods

Related publications

Maass, W., Kowatsch, T., Janzen, S., Varshney, U.

A Natural Language Technology-enhanced Mobile Sales Assistant for In-store Shopping Situations, 19th European Conf. on Information Systems (ECIS 2011), 2011.
JQR-Rating: B JQR-Index: 7.37; Nominations: Best Paper Award, Claudio Ciborra Award
PDF (3.41 MB) - BibTeX

Maass, W., Filler, A., Janzen, S. & Kowatsch, T.

Towards a Transition to Tangible Commerce: Design and Evaluation of Conversational Product Interfaces, 4th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and Technologies (DEST), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2010.
PDF (2.93 MB) - BibTeX

Maass, W. & Filler, A.

Supporting Cooking Tasks by a Smart Formulation Table, 6th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE'10), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2010.

Janzen, S., Kowatsch, T., Maass, W. & Filler, A.

Linkage of Heterogeneous Knowledge Resources within In-store Dialogue Interaction, 9th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2010), Shanghai, China, 2010.
PDF (759 KB) - BibTeX

Janzen, S. & Maass, W.

Ontology-based Natural Language Processing for In-store Shopping Situations, Third IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC 2009), Berkeley, California, USA, 2009.
PDF (6.58 MB) - BibTeX

Maass, W. & Varshney, W.

A Framework for Smart Healthcare Situations and Smart Drugs, SIG-Health Pre-AMCIS Workshop at the 15th Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS 2009). San Francisco, USA, 2009.
JQR-Rating: D JQR-Index: 5.92

Kowatsch, T., Maass, W., Filler, A. & Janzen, S.

Knowledge-based Bundling of Smart Products on a Mobile Recommendation Agent, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Mobile Business (ICMB). IEEE Computer Society Press. Barcelona, Spain, 2008.
PDF (1.63 MB) - BibTeX

Maass, W., Filler, A. & Janzen, S.

Mühlhäuser, M., Ferscha, A. and Aitenbichler, E (ed.)
Reasoning on Smart Products in Consumer Good Domains, Constructing Ambient Intelligence, CCIS 11, Springer, 2008.

Janzen, S.

Natürlichsprachliche Kommunikation mit Produktkollektionen in Verkaufssituationen (Master Thesis), 2008.

Maass, W. & Varshney, U.

Preface to the Focus Theme Section: 'Smart Products' , Electronic Markets, 2008, 18(3), pp. 211-215.
JQR-Rating: C JQR-Index: 6.85; SJR Rating: Business and International Management: Q2, Computer Science Applications: Q3, Economics and Econometrics: Q3, Management of Technology and Innovation: Q3, Marketing: Q3; H-Index: 5
PDF (101 KB) - BibTeX

Janzen, S. & Maass, W.

Smart Product Description Object (SPDO), Poster Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS2008), Saarbrücken, 2008.
PDF (59 KB) - BibTeX

Janzen, S. & Maass, W.

CoRA - Interactive Communication with Smart Products, Workshop AmI Blocks at the European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI-08), Nürnberg, 2008.
PDF (6.79 MB) - BibTeX

Janzen, S.

Mobiles Dialogsystem für Produktbeschreibungen in Web-Umgebungen (Diplomarbeit), 2007.

Maass, W.

A Tentative Design Model for Smart Products, Proc. of Workshop Design of Smart Products, Furtwangen , 2007.
PDF (359 KB) - BibTeX

Maass, W. & Filler, A.

Tip 'n Tell: Product-Centered Mobile Reasoning Support for Tangible Shopping , Proc. of MSWFB 2007: Making Semantics Work For Business, part of 1st European Semantic Technology Conference, Vienna, Austria, 2007.
PDF (87 KB) - BibTeX

Maass, W. & Janzen, S.

Dynamic Product Interfaces: A Key Element for Ambient Shopping Environments , Proc. of 20th Bled eConference, Bled, Slovenia, 2007.
PDF (302 KB) - BibTeX

Maass, W., Filler, A. & Janzen, S.

Reasoning on Smart Products in Consumer Good Domains, Workshop AmI Blocks at the European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI-07) , Darmstadt, 2007.

Maass, W. & Filler, A.

In Ch. Hochberger and R. Liskowsky (ed.)
Towards an infrastructure for semantically annotated physical products., Informatik 2006, Lecture Notes in Informatics, Springer, 2006, P-94, pp. 544–549.
JQR-Rating: C JQR-Index: 6.36
PDF (98 KB) - BibTeX

Filler, A. & Maass, W.

Maass, W.; Schoder, D.; Stahl, F.; Fischbach, K. (ed.)
Towards Navigation in Semantically Annotated Physical Product Descriptions, Design of Smart Products, 2006, pp. 47-54.