WeNet: empowering social interactions between people

In U-Hopper we never get tired of chasing new and challenging research and innovation opportunities. This is not only because we were born as a spin-off of a research center but also because working on research-driven projects and with top-notch universities and research centers allows us to keep updated with the newest technologies and approaches.

WeNet is the biggest EU project we are currently involved in. The WeNet consortium is a dream team, led by the University of Trento and composed of 15 partners from 13 countries: not only from Europe but also Israel, India, Mongolia, Paraguay, Mexico and China.

The main objective of this project is to develop the culture, science and engineering methodologies, algorithms, social interaction protocols for an online platform that will empower machine mediated diversity-aware interactions between people. 😳 These are all big and nice words, but what are we actually trying to do?
We have been asking ourselves for quite some time:

Why should we rely only on our personal network when looking for support and help?

Clearly, we don’t believe we should be limited to the people we know, family, friends and colleagues! We noticed that Artificial Intelligence (AI), despite its evolution, is still struggling when it comes to helping people develop and maintain social relationships that transcend geographical and cultural backgrounds.

Thus, within WeNet our goal is to connect people who can help each other no matter their personal relationship, and the key is leveraging their diversity. Diversity in this context may mean multiple different things: different skills, different mindset, different languages, different (physical) assets and different expertise. The key idea is that if we combine the right type of diversity, we can leverage the strength of a huge set of people – all this to help and support us.

During the four years of the project, we will be building a platform that will be the foundation and the basis of a series of studies within universities across the world with very diverse student populations and different daily problems to face. The studies will look at how the platform can improve students’ quality of life inside and outside the university, covering aspects ranging from academic performance to campus social life, from health and well-being to sports and transportation.

So far, a great amount of time has been dedicated to the definition of the platform infrastructure details: there are 6 technical partners responsible for 10 different components, which need to be integrated and work together smoothly. U-Hopper is responsible for making sure that everyone is aligned not only on the overall objective of the project but also, and especially, that all the details of the communications and interactions within the platform are set and agreed upon. In one word, that the platform does not break up!

During the next months, the platform architecture description will reach a stable state and we will start implementing its first version. Our objective is to run the first pilot in August 2020.

We will make sure to share some additional details on platform development and on the first WeNet pilot in the next post of this series; so be sure to checkout the blog for the coming updates!

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