ERCIM News No.47, October 2001 [contents]
Contextualisation in Nomadic Computing
by Markus Eisenhauer and Roland Klemke
Contextualised information presentation and interaction gives Nomadic Computing its backing. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT), prototypes and services are currently being developed in the framework of the project Situation Awareness in Motion (SAiMotion), a cooperation between FIT and other Fraunhofer Institutes that concentrates on context modeling and Human-Computer Interaction.
The baseline for the acceptance of information and communication systems is a simplified information presentation adapted to situation, task and user. On the one hand, simplified means a reduction of information by adapting the information presentation to the context (a task, situation and user adapted choice of information) but on the other hand, it means driving at an intuitive interaction with the SAiMotion-system itself. This article will concentrate on the first aspect of information adaptation. In SAiMotion, simplified information presentation is achieved through automatic proactive selection of information and context-sensitive presentation of the contents with explicit consideration of important environment variables, like daytime, noise, and the situation of communication.
Context in Nomadic Computing
Information Selection and Anticipation
Additionally the emerging contexts create a framework for user coordination at different locations allowing an implicit coordination of location independent communication and cooperation of users. As already mentioned the problem of privacy is to be taken into account since users are not always willing to disclose their situation or parts of their situation (eg their location) to the SAiMotion-system or other users.
In contrast to location and situation independent information access determining the paradigm of anything, anytime, anywhere it is vital for the above described activities to provide information dependent on the present location and situation and to support suitable methods of user interaction and information presentation: The SAiMotion-system provides support for the completion of a task, by providing navigation help, information about nearby local resources that are useful for the completion of the task, selecting information adapted to the particular situation, task and user preferences, monitoring the current goals and sub goals including a warning of possible conflicts and adapting the interaction with the SAiMotion-system to the modality appropriate for the context. Moreover the SAiMotion-system is capable pursuing multiple tasks: at the counter it reminds the user of an overdue cash transfer and presents the current balance, at the supermarket it provides the shopping list and the current special offers, in an exhibition it provides a tour or information about the exhibits, on a journey it provides useful information about the city, including map, hotel information, transportation, current events, sightseeing, and culture etc.
The most important advance will be anticipated information supply: Relevant information will be proactively selected for the present task sequence or interest of the user. With the help of user, situation and task monitoring it will be possible to reduce the information explosion to information that match the interest and needs of the user to anticipate the next interaction with the SAiMotion-system and the possible content of the next request. The SAiMotion-system proactively scans for useful information and has it ready for the next request.