|Ubiquitous Computing is an inevitably evolving
topic in computing. Many devices which are already equipped with computers can be found in
our homes or offices. Nevertheless, people still use their washing machines and telephones
not considering them as a computers. Additionally, growing communication possibilities and
the advent of small computers like PDAs let Mark Weiser's vision come true. In our ubicomp
research we consider technology and applications, using PDAs, other mobile devices and
extented "dump" machines (like TV) to set up prototypes for the demonstration of
ubicomp scenarios. Key themes in this area are listed below.
Handheld devices like PDAs are a key technology at the TecO and build the base for many mobile computing and ubicomp projects. Since the introduction of these devices we did a lots of development and research in this area (see The PDA Projects).
Ubiquitous Computing puts the computer interfaces in the environment - and changes the way users interact with the computer. Because ubicomp will radically change the way computer applications can interact with the user new HCI paradigms, User Interfaces Systems and Usability guidelines have to be developed. A prototype system, the UbicompBrowser, demonstrates key concepts of such a new system.
There is more to context than location - For example, context is also the social situation the user actually was in. In this research area we try to find out what sensor information could be useful to detect situations and how applications could profit from this information.
Knowledge about the location of a person or device is useful for many applications in ubicomp. An examples is the routing of phone calls; to provide this service a user has to be located all around a building or area (absolute location). But even relative location, where only devices and persons in the direct proximity are detected (e.g. in a room) could be useful. One example is the ad-hoc meeting, supported by PDAs, where social communication is supported by PDAs. Our research in this area focuses on how to get this location information and how to present this information in the computer system.
Ubicomp information access is one of the most exciting areas of research in ubicomp. Ubicomp environments give a lot of possibilities to retrieve, to input and to output information, so combining only these possibilities leads to a lot of new challenges for new applications. Different information access scenarios are built to find out how information access works in ubicomp scenarios.
When building global communication and network infrastructures and "computerizing" the user as described in ubicomp the question of privacy arises. Technologies like active badges or even GSM mobile phones enable computer systems to track any person using such technologies. We think these issue of privacy and security as well as individualism is underestimated by current ubicomp proposals and collides with the real world. As a solution we suggest a concept that integrates a personal device into Ubicomp to overcome these problems.
New network technologies like infrared or wireless radio communication need encryption technology to ensure security to its users. But available bandwidth of these networks is small and therefore a precious resource. Our ongoing research tries to find solutions, based on available and well introduced technologies.
14 Oct 1999