Anyone that has attended a big technical conference, such as the International Electron Devices Meeting, which opens on Monday Dec. 5, in Washington DC, or the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in February, knows that selecting which papers to attend can be a difficult process.
It has been for me when I have had to decide which presentations are most important to my readers out of 5 or 6 parallel streams and then rush from room to room, seek out interviews and then file detailed copy all in a matter of a few hours, and don't forget the diagrams.
The same thing occurred to Aneesh Nainani who described the process like this: "Going back and forth between the conference leaflet and the abstract booklet, and then discovering that there exists a conflict between the papers I wanted to attend and finally loosing the piece of paper with my schedule on the first day of the conference."
Nainani is a senior device engineer at leading semiconductor production equipment company Applied Materials Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and also a visiting scholar at Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.) so it is, in a way, comforting to know he too loses his conference schedule.
But not any more...and nor need you.
Nainani has produced an iPhone/iPad/iPod application which is an interactive version of the IEDM 2011 technical program. It shows all the sessions, with views of which papers are going on at a particular time, and giving the ability to browse the papers by category, and helping you find which room to go to for the next paper in your personal schedule.
You can read through the abstract of the papers and select the ones you want to attend to make your conference itinerary. The app also allows you to search over the extended abstracts to find all the papers on a particular topic (e.g. flash memory) or from a particular institution (e.g. Stanford University).
Nainani said he has not taken any money from Applied Materials or the organizers of IEDM to develop the app but that he is working on an Android version of it, as well as adding features such as LinkedIn integration and business card collection API.
This reminds me of the CES app, which many attendees also found very useful.
Before long, given enough intelligence and knowledge of the user, our digital assistants will indeed be able to recommend a schedule of conference papers to us, or CES exhibits to visit, etc.
Cool app; now for iPhone4s users we just need Apple's AI voice recognition Siri to tell us which are the most relevant papers for our purposes and we are all set to navigate the conferences at the cites, or even remotely through interactive sites. With OS5 promising Siri to be "deeply integrated" into the operating system who knows what answers we might expect from our digital companions. Very cool indeed!