The ContextIT project is funded by the Danish National Center of IT research. ContextIT is associated to center for Interactive Spaces, ISIS Katrinebjerg, Århus. The Partners are: Euman A/S, TDC/InnovationLab, Aalborg University, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, Department of Computer Science.
ContextIT is developing context-aware access to information and services on the Internet. Context-awareness provides user interfaces that adapt to users’ based on e.g. location and profiles. The advantage is that the environment (via the Internet) carries files and information produced by users based on the context rather than the users carry all their data on PC’s, PDA’s and the like.
Computing support is called context-aware, when services and information are provided based on a sense of the context, i.e. the time of day, the weather, the light, the user’s location, tasks, preferences etc. Context may be sensed by tracking the location of users and objects and by retrieving status, or profile information from users’ active badges, PDAs or mobile phones.
ContextIT has developed the HyConExplorer prototype, which makes it possible to associate comments and observations with the context information captured on the tablet pc so it later can be retrieved by other users on the same location.
The HyConExplorer allows users to “bump into” environmental information from the Web, and make paths with picture and sound annotations as well as links between relevant information
One of the powerful features of the HyConExplorer is the real-time geo-based searches (GBS) via Google collecting hits within a specified nimbus around the user’s GPS position.
The HyCon Tablet PC Prototype
The combination of context sensors and mobile devices equipped with built-in cameras and microphones makes it feasible to support users creating video, audio, photo, and text annotations. These structures are automatically tagged with captured context information and documenting an object or a situation.
The tablet PC is capable of capturing images, video, and audio. The user’s physical location is registered through a small Bluetooth-enabled GPS receiver. The prototype also implements a map component handling retrieval of maps. Based on the user’s position, the chosen map scale, and the geometry of the map is viewed in the application.
In use by kids undetaking school projects
The prototype is currently being tested by school kids conducting project work on subjects related to areas of the city of Aarhus. The school projects focus on outdoor exploration of cities or landscapes
Modern pedagogy is project oriented and stimulates pupils to work in groups where they research a subject and make reports, multimedia production and/or oral presentation. For such learning activities pupils need to document their exploration of subjects outside the class room. This requires mobile tools to support documentation and preliminary production of content for the reporting. Pupils may use the mobile HyConExplorer enabling them to collect, organise and work with information they produce or find via the system or in the real world. The HyCon system supports making presentations from the collected information in interactive room environments in schools, universities, libraries or other learning environments.
Other domains where HyCon could be of interest is information services for cities, landscapes, museums and other cultural heritage, as well as construction companies and agriculture,. Information to browse and search based on the context may include: history, archaeology, politics, environmental info, nature guidance, demography , energy, trade, industry, transport, and traffic. All of these subjects may be explored relative to a given context, e.g., location, time, project task, or group members.
A version of the HyConExplorer for the Symbian mobile phone platform has been developed and it is available from http://www.daimi.au.dk/~fah/hycon/html/.