SmartReader is a general-purpose “reading appliance” being implemented at Carnegie Mellon University (Qatar and Pittsburgh) - building upon an earlier prototype version. It is an artificial intelligence system that employs advanced language processing technologies and can interact with the reader and respond to queries about the content, words and sentences in a text. We expect it to be used by students in Qatar and elsewhere to help improve their comprehension of English text. SmartReader is motivated by the observation that text is still the predominant medium for learning especially at the advanced level and that text, being ``bland’’, is hardly a conducive and motivating medium for learning, especially when one does not have access to tools that enable one get over language roadblocks, ranging from unknown words to unrecognized and forgotten names, to hard-to-understand sentences. SmartReader strives to make reading (English) textual material, an “active” and an “interactive” process with the user interacting with the text using anytime-anywhere contextually-guided query mechanism based-on contextual user intent recognition. With SmartReader, a user can -inquire about the contextually correct meaning or synonyms of a word or idiomatic and multi-word constructions, -select a person's name, and then get an immediate ``flashback’’ to the first (or the last) time the person was encountered in text to remind herself the details of the person, -extract a summary of a section to remember important aspects of the content at the point she left off, and continue reading with a significantly refreshed context, -select a sentence that she may not be able to understand fully and ask SmartReader to break it down, simplify or paraphrase to comprehend it better. -test her comprehension of the text in a page or a chapter, by asking SmartReader to dynamically generate quizzes and answering them. -ask questions about the content of the text and get answers in addition to many other functions. SmartReader is being implemented as a multi-platform (tablet/PC) client-server system using HTML5 technology, with Unstructured Information Management Architecture -UIMA technology (used recently in IBM's Watson Q/A system in the Jeopardy Challenge) as the underlying language processing framework.


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