Irish research team lands
e-commerce award

12 Oct 2004

Irish researchers claim to have made a breakthrough in developing an e-commerce system that enhances the consumer’s experience by offering a more personalised and faster service. Following an international award and a successful research period the team is now seeking a partner to commercialise the product.

The adaptive information system developed by researchers in University College Dublin (UCD) dynamically builds a profile of the shopper as they browse the web, learning what their needs are and then recommending products to them. The researchers said that this method gives the buyer a more personalised and faster service as it allows them to quickly find a product that best meets their needs.

Team members Kevin McCarthy, James Reilly, Dr. Lorraine McGinty and Professor Barry Smyth presented their research at this year’s International Conference on Adaptive Hypermedia and Web-Based Systems, held in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. There, the research was awarded the Best Paper prize at what is the leading conference in the rapidly growing field of adaptive information systems.

Prof. Barry Smyth, principal investigator in the AIC and head of Computer Science at UCD, commented: “The typical online store is not a very convenient place to shop and, compared to our real-world shopping experiences, we often miss the advice and help provided by an expert shop assistant, especially when it comes to helping us find complex and expensive products that suit our personal needs. Our technology brings us a significant step closer to this goal by allowing online shoppers to critique the products that they see by using very simple and natural forms of feedback, and we have been able to demonstrate that this helps real users make better choices.”

Dr. Lorraine McGinty added that the team has used its technology to develop a prototype e-commerce store for consumer electronics goods such as digital cameras. “The results from live user trials have been very positive and we are actively looking for a suitable commercialisation partner with a view to taking the technology to market.”

The research team is part of the Adaptive Information Cluster, a joint UCD and Dublin College University research team that has received close to €6m in grants from Science Foundation Ireland. The Cluster works closely with IBM, Ericsson, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories and Changing Worlds. More information on the AIC is available at

By Gordon Smith