Context-Aware computing is an area that is somewhat new to me. I only really started learning about it in the last four months. Context-Aware Systems (CAS) are systems that change their behaviour in accordance to some stimuli. For example, a smart home which senses when you arrive and automatically turns on your favourite tv show, or a fridge that can tell you when its running low on milk, or a smart cellphone that automatically defers calls when you are in a meeting. The sort of sci-fi stuff you read in paper-back novels as a kid. Neat stuff. But after reading countless academic journal articles in the field of Context-awareness, I’ve come to the realization that few of these authors actually create anything- they just propose an idea, and then thats it. They barely address how they would go about creating what they propose. I’ve found articles that pretty much say something like:
So we’re proposing this home that can do like anything right? Like, it can find your keys for you and stuff if you lose them. And it will liek yell at your dog for peeing on the carpet and stuff. Uhm ya.. and we would write this in Java.. or something. And it would have a database and stuff. And it would have these really high tech cameras that havent been invented yet. kAwsum,thx.
You know when you’re in first grade, and the teacher asks you to invent something that will help you around the house, and then draw it? So you break out your crayons and draw this robot-dinosaur that will play with you, and keep away your little sister, and eat your brussels sprouts for you, and tidy your toys for you, and fight fire, and make candy appear out of thin air? And then your parents put your drawing on the fridge even tho its shitty and they have no idea what it is? Ya thats what these papers are like. The ideas are the same, the only difference is instead of crayons and construction paper, these ideas are written by academics who can articulate these ideas and make them all wordy-like.
I’m not completely bashing Context-Aware systems. I think they’re great. However, I think that instead of a field of study, they’re really just an application of other fields of study like AI and usability. The importance of having Context-Awareness as its own field is that AI researchers really don’t care about adapting a system to heighten the experience of the end user, or providing a personalized experience. They care more about making the machines perform better. So without this field of Context-Aware systems, not enough people would really be looking at how to apply these techniques and technologies from different fields.
Now to leave you with some food for thought, heres a drawing I made. Put it on your fridge. Or your parents’ fridge.