Achieving Co-Operation and Developing Smart Behavior in Collections of Context-Aware Artifacts
One of the most exciting and important recent developments in ubiquitous computing (UbiComp) is to make everyday appliances, devices, and objects context aware. A context-aware artifact uses sensors to perceive the context of humans or other artifacts and to respond sensibly to it. Adding context awareness to artifacts can increase their usability and enable new interactions and user experiences. The aim of the research and development work discussed here is to examine at how artifact collections (or ambient ecologies, a metaphor introduced for modelling UbiComp applications) can be made to work together, and provide functionality that exceeds the sum of their parts. The underlying hypothesis is that even if an individual artifact has limited functionality, it can harness more advanced behaviour when grouped with others. The realization of this hypothesis is possible by providing appropriate abstractions and a new affordance (composeability) that objects acquire. Specifically our contribution is firstly to discuss the conceptual abstractions and formal definitions used to model such artifact collections, which are inherent to ubiquitous computing, and secondly to discuss engineering guidelines for building ubiquitous computing applications based on well-known design principles and methods of analysis. It is argued then that the process where people configure and use complex collections of interacting artifacts can be viewed as having much in common with the process where system builders design software systems out of components. The design space consists, in this view, of a multitude of artifacts, which people (re)combine in dynamic, ad-hoc ways. Artifacts are treated as reusable “components” of a dynamically changing physical/digital environment, which involves people. In a nutshell, in this work we have attempted to define ambient ecologies, specify design patterns and programming principles, and develop infrastructure and tools to support ambient ecology designers, developers and end-users.
Keywordsubiquitous computing ambient ecologies formal model context-aware artifacts design patterns ontology composeability middleware intelligent systems
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