The University of Sussex

ECHISE2005 - 1st International Workshop on Exploiting Context Histories in Smart Environments (Proceedings)

Thorsten Prante, Brian Meyers, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Lonnie D. Harvel

We are going to experience the diffusion of ubiquitous and pervasive computing technology into our everyday environments. The resulting interconnected collections of computational artifacts have to exhibit smart and coherent behaviour in support of the users' activities and tasks across artifacts/devices, in order to be perceived as smart environments on the users' side. As interactions tell stories, a promising approach to enhance the user experience in smart environments is to exploit recorded histories of the users' interactions in context (context histories for short). These histories can be used to support ubiquitous/pervasive computing applications with an enhanced understanding of the users' activities and interactions as they expand and develop over time. In addition, current contextual data is often imperfect and noisy and can be smoothed from the use of histories. In more traditional computer use, interaction histories have been in use for quite some time. Interaction logs of evaluation tasks serve a detailed analysis. Histories of visited web sites are used to support navigation. Online shops offer recommender functionality based on interaction logs. Finally, interaction histories sometimes are used to infer user tasks. These and other applications can be enriched by integrating context sensing from even more sensors into the physical and digital world, e.g., also spanning across devices. Exploiting context histories may, for example, result in less distractions, more adapted and coherent behaviour of multi-computer setups, and better support in information management and search. The user could end up with a more supportive and comforting environment. At the same time, however, the collection, storage, management, and exploitation of context histories is a delicate issue, as privacy, informational self-determination, and data security are touched. In smart environments, there will be multiple users interacting with multiple and heterogeneous devices, some of them with little storage and computing power. How can we collect all the information needed? How does the data get synchronized between devices? And how does the user control and feel comfortable with that level of data being stored? In this workshop we want to bring together researchers to discuss the trade-offs of exploiting context histories for supporting user experiences with applications in smart environments. Several systems and approaches have already been proposed. We will set out to shape a common vision for this emerging field by identifying common requirements and issues.

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