Contextually Aware Pervasive Computing: A Semantic Approach.
University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science,
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We live in a world which is becoming increasingly rich in technology, with a wide array of portable and embedded devices being readily available and surrounding us in everyday use. Similarly, advances in communications technologies and the explosive growth of data being published on the Internet have provided access to information on an unparalleled scale. However, device interoperability is often poor at best, and accessing data which is relevant to any given situation can be difficult due to the sheer quantity of information which is available. A contextually aware environment is envisioned as one in which integrated computer systems have an understanding or representation of not only the physical space and the resources within it, but also the activities, interests, actions and intent of the human occupants at any given time. Given such knowledge, a contextually aware and technology rich pervasive environment may offer services and applications which attempt to adapt the surroundings in a manner which assists its users, such as by configuring devices or assimilating information which is relevant to activities currently being undertaken. The research presented in this thesis combines the fields of knowledge management, semantic technologies, logic and reasoning with those from the predominantly hardware and communications oriented field of pervasive computing, in order to facilitate the creation of contextually aware environments. Requirements for such a system are discussed in detail, resulting in the development of a generic framework of components and data representations from which domain specific deployments can be created. To demonstrate and test the proposed framework, experimentation has been conducted in the example domain of an academic environment, including the development of two contextually aware applications. The experiences and lessons learned during this research are documented throughout, and have influenced the proposed avenues for future related research in this area.
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