Context Aware

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Humans are quite successful in conveying ideas to each other and reacting appropriately. This is due to many factors, including the richness of the language they share, the common understanding of how the world works, and an implicit understanding of everyday situations. When humans speak with humans, they are able to use information apparent from the current situation, or context, to increase the conversational bandwidth.
Unfortunately, this ability to convey ideas does not transfer well when humans interact with computers. Computers do not understand our language, do not understand how the world works and cannot sense information about the current situation, at least not as easily as most humans can. In traditional interactive, or desktop, computing, users have an impoverished mechanism for providing information to computers, typically using a keyboard and mouse. As a result, information must explicitly be provided to computers. Users translate what they want to accomplish into specific minutiae on how to accomplish the task, and then use the keyboard and mouse to articulate these details to the computer so that it can execute their commands. This is nothing like our interaction with other humans. Consequently, computers are not currently enabled to take full advantage of the context of the human-computer dialogue. By improving the computer?s access to context, users can increase the richness of communication in human-computer interaction and make it possible to produce more useful computational services.

What is Context?
Anind Dey (1998), a computer scientist, enumerated context as the user?s emotional state, focus of attention, location and orientation, date and time, and objects and people in the user?s environment. The important aspects of context are,

  • where you are?
  • whom you are with?
  • what resources are nearby?

Context is to be the constantly changing execution environment. They include the following elements of the environment,

  • Computing environment - available processors, devices accessible for user input and display, network capacity, connectivity, and costs of computing
  • User environment - location, collection of nearby people, and social situation
  • Physical environment - lighting and noise level

Fig. 1. Context feature space

Context Awareness
Context Awareness is defined complementary to location awareness. Whereas location may serve as a determinant for resident processes, context may be applied more flexibly with mobile computing with any moving entities, especially with bearers of smart communicators. Context awareness originated as a term from ubiquitous computing which sought to deal with linking changes in the environment with computer systems, which are otherwise static.

Context-Aware Computing
The term Context-Awareness in ubiquitous computing was introduced by Schilit (1994).
In computer science context awareness refers to the idea that computers can both sense, and react based on their environment. Devices may have information about the circumstances under which they are able to operate and based on rules, or an intelligent stimulus, react accordingly. Context aware devices may also try to make assumptions about the user's current situation.
Context-aware applications look at the who?s (identity), where?s (location), when?s (time), and what?s (activity) of entities and use this information to determine why a situation is occurring.

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