Intel touts "context-aware" computing at IDF 2010

IDF 2010 – Intel CTO Justin Rattner believes the future of computing lies in rich, context-driven user experiences.

According to Rattner, context awareness is “poised” to “fundamentally change” the way in which individuals interact with and relate to information devices.

“For example, my GPS coordinates and compass heading don’t tell my smartphone all that much about me,” Rattner said during a third-day keynote speech.

“But imagine a device that uses a variety of sensory modalities to determine what you are doing at an instant, from being asleep in your bed to being out for a run with a friend. 

“By [collating] hard sensor information such as where you are and the conditions around you – combined with soft sensors such as your calendar, your social network and past preferences – future devices will constantly learn about who you are, how you live, work and play.”

Rattner explained that such device would be capable of accurately anticipating and gauging the various needs of individuals.

“Imagine your PC advising you leave the house 10 minutes early for your next appointment due to a traffic tie-up on your way to work. Or, consider a ‘context aware’ remote control that instantly determines who is holding it and automatically selects the Smart TV preferences for that person.

”Sure, all this may sound like science fiction, but this is the promise of ‘context-aware’ computing and we can already demonstrate much of it in the lab.”

To illustrate his point, Rattner was joined onstage by Fodor’s Travel VP Tim Jarrell.

Jarrell showcased Fodor’s experimental Personal Vacation Assistant running on a MID that was developed in conjunction with Intel.

The PVA exploits a variety of context sources, including personal travel preferences, previous activities, current location and calendar information to provide real-time travel recommendations to vacationers.

In addition, the PVA can even generate – at the user’s request – a travel blog with annotated photos and videos visited during the trip.

Rattner also demoed Intels’ Socially ENabled Services (SENS) research project, which is designed to send real-time activities and share data “live and direct” to networked friends over various devices.

“[Of course], while we’re developing all of these new ways of sensing, gathering and sharing contextual data, we are even more focused on ensuring privacy and security as billions of devices get connected and become much smarter,” stated Rattner.

“Our vision is to enable devices to generate and use contextual information for a greatly enhanced user experience while ensuring the safety and privacy of an individual’s personal information.”