`Ma Meet Me Outside The Lesotho Pavilion'

Visitors to giant amusement parks or world's fairs can easily become lost or separated from their companions. For the projected 20 million visitors to Expo `92 in Seville, Spain, IBM hopes to minimize that problem. Scattered about the 2-square-kilometer fair will be 300 touch-screen personal computers. A family or school group gets its own electronic-mail account as part of its admission price. Then, members of the group can communicate with one another with electronic messages. So Aunt Sue can let everyone know she'll be hanging out at the Belgian waffle stand at noon. An electronic map will even show where the stand is.

IBM is developing the Expo `92 system as part of research on user-interface design now under way at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N. Y. The researchers figure that if their approach works for the many computer novices attending Expo `92, it can probably work anywhere.