Application Support Services for Distributed Mobile Multimedia
Today, mobile networks provide only a small range of simple services, leaving multimedia out of reach. In stark contrast, the volume and richness of information services on fixed networks is growing at an accelerated pace. In the near future, wherever they are, people will want to use multimedia information services, whether global or local to a particular area, on fixed or mobile networks. Many different types of computers, including laptops, palmtops, personal assistants, but also mobile telephones, will help users to access a variety of networks and services.
OnTheMove addresses this issue by defining a Mobile Application Support Environment (MASE) providing support for applications running on mobile devices. This architecture includes a mobile application programming interface, Mobile API, that hides the heterogeneity of underlying networks and user equipment as well as the mobility related functions as such. The OnTheMove architecture is based on the latest research and OnTheMove is the only project in ACTS demonstrating UMTS-based middleware for client server systems.
The On TheMove Mobile Application Support Environment (MASE)
MASE hides the complexity of the network from the application wherever possible and desirable.The MASE attempts to make different wireless networks appear to applications and therefore to the user as a seamless and homogeneous communication medium. Differences between networks only surface as differences in communication's Quality-of-Service (QoS). In order to enable mobile-aware applications to optimize their services, based on the characteristics of both the terminals and the networks, the MASE offers applications the capability to both control QoS and react on its variations.
The MASE provides applications with information on the location of the mobile client so that application services can adjust accordingly. In addition to mobile-specific functions, the MASE offers support for multimedia conversion, transactions, agent technology, accounting, security, and system management.
New developments in the Internet and in mobile terminals led us to conclude that we should include innovative features such as dynamic software update and distributed computing in the MASE. Hence, the MASE will offer more services through the Mobile API than earlier planned. OTM has chosen to integrate Java and CORBA technologies to support this features and has selected one leading implementor of CORBA architecture to become a new project partner. Vice versa we feed the UMTS ideas into CORBA-standardisation which opens a very important new field of application for UMTS.
Summary of Trials
During 1997 and 1998 a sequence of field trials is planned in at least five European locations plus one test-site in Singapore. These will allow us to validate and refine the MASE architecture. User feedback and the analysed results from Experiment 0 are taken into consideration for the current planning and developing of a new dedicated application for these trials. Demonstrations are planned for CeBit and other exhibitions. Technical workshops, publications at international conferences, and specifications providing input to standards bodies will facilitate the exploitation of results.
To capture user requirements in the press publishing domain,application and network requirements related to mobile multimedia services
To develop mobile multimedia information applications in relation with content provider for use in field trials
To build a supporting service platform, the MASE, eventually capable of UMTS services support
To derive a common mobile API for mobile information services provision and promote the interface within standardisation bodies
To organise demonstrations, field trials and publications, hence proving the usability and paving the way towards the use of mobile broadband sevices and infrastructure.
During the second year of the project we succeeded in defining the MASE middleware architecture and its services offered to »mobile-aware« applications. These include among others location awareness, messaging and multiparty services, cost control, security, disconnected operation, terminal adaptation, profile management and support for distributed environments. The implementation of the first version of the MASE will be finished within the second project year.
Our first experiment 0 began in June 1996 and included about 40 external users. The application designed and implemented for this experiment included stock portfolio information, news telegrams, travel information and access to news magazines as well as a dashboard providing feedback to the users about their location and available bandwidth. With experiment 0 we achieved our goal to receive early information about technical constraints and user requirements. This information allows us to focus on the essential requirements both with respect to the MASE and the applications to be designed for Field Trials 1 and 2. A network related part of experiment 0 revealed valuable information about the usage of data-communication protocols (such as TCP/IP and PPP) in conjunction with mobile networks.
Capability to develop new range of applications for mobile users, increasing revenue of the sector,
Increased efficiency for business mobile users,
Increased commercial interest by proven effectiveness of standardised API in field trials conducted with National Hosts in different countries
Strengthening of European industry in mobile sector through patents registered by project
Easier acces from isolated locations to broadband communications and applications.