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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Context-Aware Systems and the Future Internet:


The ubiquity of mobile devices and proliferation of wireless networks will allow everyone permanent access to the Internet at all times and all places. The increased computational power of these devices has the potential to empower people to generate their own applications for innovative social and cognitive activities in any situation and anywhere. This wireless connection is not limited to user devices, almost any artefact from clothing to buildings can be connected and collaborate. Furthermore new sensor technologies and wireless sensor networks provides environmental intelligence and the capability to sense, reason and actuate. This leads to the exciting vision of the interconnection of artefacts embedded in our real environment, forming a society of “intelligent things” and “smart spaces”.




In the real world being aware of context and communicating context is a key part of human interaction. Context is a much richer and more powerful concept particularly for mobile users and can make network services more personalised and useful. Location and presence are examples of context based services widely deployed today. Harvesting of context to reason and learn about user behaviour will enhance the “internet of services” or “cloud computing” vision allowing services to be composed and customised according to user context. The concept of awareness and context aware applications and systems is a much more difficult proposition. Context awareness refers to the capability of an application, service or even an artefact being aware of its physical environment or situation and responding proactively and intelligently based on such awareness. Context-aware applications, context-aware artefacts or context aware systems are aware of their environment and circumstances and can respond intelligently. The ubiquity of mobile devices and proliferation of wireless networks will allow everyone permanent access to the Internet at all times and all places. The increased computational power of these devices has the potential to empower people to generate their own applications for innovative social and cognitive activities in any situation and anywhere. This wireless connection is not limited to user devices, almost any artefact from clothing to buildings can be connected and collaborate. Furthermore new sensor technologies and wireless sensor networks provides environmental intelligence and the capability to sense, reason and actuate. This leads to the exciting vision of the interconnection of artefacts embedded in our real environment, forming a society of “intelligent things” and “smart spaces”. This will enable all sorts of innovative interactive pervasive applications. The key denominator in all these applications and systems is that awareness manifests itself from the self property of being able to sense, reason and actuate. A future internet capable of embracing this concept and delivering context aware services to users and artefacts elevates this to a pervasive sensing and acting knowledge network. This would be a network able to make decisions, actuate environmental objects and assist users.

Context-aware systems must be capable of adapting to context. One of the consequences of context adaptation particularly in a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) is that adaptation can be partly satisfied by the ability to compose and orchestrate services on the fly, based on user and or environmental context. Web services, semantic web and match making algorithms can play a role in achieving this goal. Service composition is a dynamic and flexible process, which allows for reconfiguration as the context changes. It is not only services that will adapt, displays may change; doors open and traffic lights turn red. This is the actuation part of adaptation indispensable in a future internet of things and artefacts. This raises the issue of how sensor subsystems are best connected to such an infrastructure. For the internet of content then media will be recomposed and advertisements changed. In a distributed system to achieve these outcomes is a formidable challenge. It requires coordination, control and strategic decision making entities.



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