Graph Technology Helps Xfinity Create Personalized, Smart Homes

The Challenge

Companies around the world have come a long way towards making homes smarter.

Smart devices send alerts when the front door is unlocked, the house alarm is disengaged or someone is at the front door. These connected devices naturally interact with one another. But because many of these tools don’t have capabilities like natural language processing, the result is really a large collection of connected devices that can’t be automated.

“A person is not just an ID. A person is a set of relationships to personal information, locations, people and devices,” said Jessica Lowing, Director of Project Management at Comcast.

Homes aren’t able to perform tasks like “turn off the lights in Lily’s room” because these requests require insight into complex semantic and social relationships. The ability to personalize these tools is also incredibly limited. To address both of these challenges, Comcast put together a team dedicated to creating and perfecting an xFi smart home prototype.

The Solution

The first step was to develop rich definitions for all the terms in the Comcast profile graph.

For example, a “person” definition needed much more than a unique ID. It had to include a unique set of relationships to personal information, locations, people, and devices.

“Since people are at the center of these smart homes, they also need to be at the center of our automation,” Lowing said, “which brings us back to modeling social and semantic relationships.”

The team recognized that the real value of this rich data was the relationships between them, which would require a native graph database structure. Ultimately, the team would also need to build a shared platform at the household level that could be used by any Xfinity application so that user(s) would be provided with the same set of information.

This resulted in the Xfinity profile graph, a scalable, flexible, multi-tenant user-profile service for extending personal information and relationships across Xfinity products. It models customers’ real-life relationships, and provides context so that Xfinity applications provide a more personalized experience for users.

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