Name: Muhammed Fatih Bulut
School: University of Buffalo, Ph.D. Candidate
Muhammed, you have interned at IBM throughout your Doctorate program, and you’ve patented several inventions. Can you describe your favorite of these inventions?
I’ve had the opportunity to intern at IBM for three summers. One of the lessons that I learned throughout my internships is “simplicity always beats complexity”. In today’s world, we need to monitor the ever-increasing number of communications streams from personal emails, social networks, instant messaging, SMS and phone calls.
So the question is how can one person manage the increasing number of communications streams? In one of our patents, we address this question by putting some intelligence in the middle and mediating the communications based on the score of importance. As an example, if I’m in a meeting and the caller is my boss, I should probably take the call. However if the caller is my friend, it may wait until my meeting has finished. Mediation of communication can considerably enhance productivity by taking the burden of deciding from us to an intelligent mediator.
How do you think social and mobile will change the way we live?
We’ve been witnessing major changes in our lives due the rapid adoption of new technologies like smart phones and social networks. By social networks, I don’t only mean the major web platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, but also spatio-temporal social networks (i.e. people who are nearby at the same time interval) that are enabled by the mobile devices.
As my advisor, Dr. Murat Demirbas, put it, ‘The services we’ve seen as a toy or luxury in the past are now necessities of our lives.” Online map services, such as Google or Yahoo maps, and e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay are examples of such services.
In one of my latest works using smart phones, I built a system called LineKing, which can detect and estimate the line wait times in congested places, such as coffee shops, banks and DMVs. This enables you to look at your app on your smart phone and see the expected wait times of a Starbucks and determine when to go for a coffee without wasting too much time in the line.
I believe that the trend of innovations will continue in the upcoming years as smart phones will become more powerful and less resource-constrained. In the near future, I can imagine that we will have a service that arranges activities automatically based on a range of different parameters we often don’t consider, such as the mood of the person, traffic conditions, line wait times, etc. I believe mobile and social systems have critical roles in these types of services.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to always love what you’re doing. I strongly believe that success in life is closely related to how much we devote ourselves. The key in here is: devotion requires love. I try to apply this principle in every aspect of my life — from my research to everyday life activities.