Context-aware computing applications

B. Schilit, N. Adams, and R. Want, “Context-aware computing applications,” in WMCSA ’94: Proceedings of the 1994 First Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications, (Washington, DC, USA), pp. 85–90, IEEE Computer Society, 1994. [PDF]


This paper describes software that reacts to an individual’s changing context. According to the authors, three important aspects of context are: where you are, who you are with, and what resources are nearby. Context includes different aspects of the physical environment around the user.

To investigate these topics they developed ParcTab, a small hand-held devices that uses infrared based cellular network for communication. The Tab acts as a graphics terminal and most of applications run on remote hosts.

Using this experimental environment, they describe four interaction mechanism:

  1. Proximate Selection, the located-objects that are nearby are emphasized or otherwise made easier to choose.
  2. Automatic Contextual Reconfiguration is the process of adding new components, removing existing components or altering the connections between components.
  3. Contextual Information and Commands happens when contextual information can produce different results accodring to the context in which they are issued.
  4. Context-Triggered Actions are sets of rules that specify how contex-aware systems should adapt.


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