Apps are making human lives easier
Technological advances have truly affected how we live, work and play. We seem to be constantly surrounded by 'intelligent' things and information technology (IT) services. You can go online and book a table at a restaurant for dinner, check the train schedule, listen to the radio, or even buy flowers for your partner. Applications enabling such activities facilitate our lives. But can technology help people become fully independent?
'We're now seeing many intelligent devices affecting our lives, and we are expecting to see more,' said Jacqueline Floch at SINTEF ICT in Norway. 'The question is whether people out there will be able to function independently. Some will manage to acquire the right technology skills and tailor IT services to their own needs, while others will feel overwhelmed by the huge choice.'
The SINTEF ICT team are developing a tool that consists of different building blocks. Individuals could select, combine and put together the services they need, according to the researchers.
'Since most people aren't qualified programmers or software developers, we have to provide them with a new user interface and a tool that they can understand,' said Dr Floch.
The SINTEF ICT researchers have been collaborating with three companies, Tellu, Gintel and Wireless Trondheim, and developed the 'UbiSys' framework. Tellu's focus is software systems development for the mobile market, Gintel develops software for telecom operators and service providers, and Wireless Trondheim provides the network where new IT services can be operated experimentally.
The SINTEF ICT group used the companies' services as their starting point. Tellu, for instance, markets the SmartTrack service platform, which permits various tracking services to connect and work together to monitor mobile units, regardless if they are devices or people. SmartTrack allows users to track these units whatever their location and condition.
'The SmartTrack interface supports the definition of rules such as "if a person has a fall, notify a relative" or "if a tool is not indoors by 20:00, send an alarm to the duty officer",' said Dr Floch. 'This interface is complex, and requires programming expertise. We have simplified this, allowing Tellu's customers to create their own rules. Integrating SmartTrack with UbiSys will give "the man in the street" the chance to use the service,' she added.
Gintel, meanwhile, began using UbiSys to allow end users to put together telephone services on their own, and the outcome is EasyDroid.
'What we have done is give people a way of controlling the everyday functions on their phones,' said Dr Floch. 'You can link incoming calls to your calendar and location. If you're in a meeting or at a concert, you can set the phone so that it automatically diverts calls. You can also choose to receive calls from "important" people, send a text when the meeting is over, or forward the call to someone else. There are many options. The point is that you are in control and can put things together in any way you like.'
The researchers are planning to further their work by focusing on the elderly and welfare technology.
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Data Source Provider: SINTEF ICT
Document Reference: Based on information from SINTEF ICT
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Information and communication technology applications ; Scientific Research