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February 25, 2002 Persuasive, Pervasive Computing Nearly two years after its inception, MIT's ubiquitous computing project

begins to bear fruit. By Eric Brown In 2000, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched an ambitious project to transform the way the world uses computers. The old model: a box, a monitor and keyboard. The new: computers as pervasive and invisible as the air we breathe. They called it Project Oxygen. For an overview of the Project's goals, and a Q&A with its founders, see "Project Oxygen's New Wind". Now, nearly two years out, the first technologies are rolling out of the labs. Project leaders-Laboratory for Computer Science chief Victor Zue, associate director Anant Agarwal and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director Rodney Brooks-insist that Project Oxygen is about an idea, not products. But corporate sponsors-among them Hewlett Packard, Nokia and Philips-eagerly await their results. Technology Review went into the labs to get a sneak peak at three facets of Oxygen that show particular promise: Cricket, a location-aware computing system; the Intelligent Room, an high-tech office that doubles as a visioninterface research lab; and the Raw microprocessor, a low-power, ultra-programmable chip designed to power the handheld devices of the 21st century. Together these technologies, their creators say, will put computers everywhere-and nowhere. A Raw Deal Handheld computers have come a long way since Apple unveiled its Newton in 1993. Once little more than a glorified Rolodex, handhelds today rival the performance and range of applications of desktop PCs. But higher speeds and multiple, specialized processors have made them power-hungry, and battery life continues to be a limiting factor. To address the power problem, Oxygen researchers, led by Agarwal, are building a more flexible, less power-intensive chip they call the Raw Architecture Workstation, or Raw. "Today, people build custom [chips] for video, graphics, networking and so on," says Agarwal. "We have a single processor that can do all these things." Not only does this optimize performance-especially for tasks like video processing, which bog down in memory-but it saves power, an essential feature for any small, battery-powered device. And the programmability extends not only to integrating discrete functions. It could open up exciting breakthroughs in areas such as software radios, which can easily switch between multiple cellular protocols. By making the data paths highly programmable, Raw avoids centralized memory and register systems. "In a typical processor you may have to bounce a piece of data around. But with Raw, it goes straight to where I want it to go," says Agarwal.


They're placed so any listening device can receive signals from three or four devices at once to further localize position. logic units. Location-tracking is a hot topic now in light of the Federal Communications Commission's "Enhanced 911" requirements that call for 95 percent of all cell phones to include automatic location identification technology such as the Global Positioning System by the end of 2005." says Balakrishnan. multipath and magnetic interference disrupt traditional locational devices. Enter the Cricket Indoor Location System." says Agarwal.The Raw architecture resembles a network of tiles. battery-powered Cricket beacons can be "slapped" on ceilings quickly without calibration. which they can use to find static devices such as printers or exits as well as other people. what they call the Handy 21. 2 . researchers believe a mobile computer can be more helpful if it knows where it is. which rarely works inside buildings and often fails outside near tall buildings. being developed with IBM Microelectronics. registers and a programmable switch. The low-cost. A prototype of the Raw processor." The first device the chip will power will be Oxygen's model handheld. for example. thus making for easy scalability. the Cricket software that governs the listening device built into a piece of hardware can calculate the timing difference between the two to determine location. "Getting something to work indoors is particularly challenging. is to develop an indoor alternative to satellitebased GPS tracking. each containing features for instruction. "So if there's a gap of ten millisecondsthen you're about ten feet away. Prototype Handys integrate voice recognition. data memory. is expected to arrive sometime this year. to the wires. and what's around it. a network of wireless transmitters that provides mobile devices such as Handy 21s with information about their physical location." Cricket's trick is to have each beacon continually transmit two signals: one radio and one ultrasound signals. Inside buildings. says LCS associate professor Hari Balakrishnan. "The goal for us is to get linear distances of within a few centimeters so you can tell where you are within a foot or so. Now my software can match up the hardware with the application. "We pay a lot of attention to the interconnect. Because radio zips along at the speed of light and ultrasound pulses travel at the speed of sound. "If you expose the interconnect to the software you can customize how data flows through the chip." says Balakrishnan. switch instruction. wireless communications and video-power-hungry applications that would benefit from Raw's all-in-one design. The goal. You can orchestrate the flow of data. transmitting the identity of key resources in its purview. Cricket beacons can also send other information beyond location coordinates. Cricket Chirps Up At Project Oxygen.

or. Better tracking of goods throughout their manufacture and delivery could save billions in theft. they can compare the minute differences between the reception times.The Oxygen team is also working on a "Cricket Compass" prototype that can determine which direction the listening device is facing. At first glance. two standard video cameras and two stereoscopic video cameras. This capability could help direct a computer to send information to the nearest facing display. albeit with a surfeit of computer projected "live board" displays on the wall. a room-controlling device that lets users interact naturally with the computer. or museum visitors could download information on a nearby exhibit. loss and inefficiency.I. gesture. In fact. if all else fails. Cricket is not wed to a particular radio frequency. will also help the computer customize responses for each individual. Sensitive to Cricket's big-brother undertones. Eventually. You interact with the displays via voice. but parts through a warehouse. such communications. thus determining orientation. By equipping each listening device with several ultrasound receivers placed very closely together. The task of identifying speakers is important both for controlling videoconferences and for letting the computer respond to user commands without getting confused. the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is focusing on voice and vision recognition technologies that will help to shape Oxygen's Enviro 21. or it could enhance informational and point-of-sale applications. Lab research 3 . the Intelligent Room looks like a typical meeting room. a touch panel. The ceiling is studded with an array of 32 microphones. and Balakrishnan says they may switch to Bluetooth if the technology takes off. Balakrishnan's group is experimenting with a wired library. as LCS director Victor Zue suggests." says Krzysztof Gajos." then the Intelligent Room is the cool new jungle gym in the middle. For example. an A. researchers are also designing intricate protections for user privacy. shoppers could point their handheld toward a store display to find out about nearby sales. Project Oxygen is a "big playground. The Intelligent Room If. "In traditional vision systems you have mono cameras trying to detect objects by extracting the prerecorded background. For Oxygen. in which every book features a radio tag tracked by a Cricket-like system. light pen. The room hosts a variety of projects exploring new collaborative tools and audio/visual interfaces. Metaglue. while avoiding the privacy worries attendant to the tracking of people. but changing the lighting fools the camera. which are orchestrated via Oxygen's innovative networking software. A basic goal is to improve communications between microphones and cameras so that the computer can determine who to pay attention to. Cricket's greatest impact may come in embedded systems that track not people in an office.

But one thing is for certain: the concepts they inspire undoubtedly will. and Fox's prototype knows to listen up." Oxygen is also interested in what people are looking at. SAM disengages. but the background shape." which can be confusing in meetings. for example to help the computer decide which displays to use for optimal viewing. Software tracks the way a user is looking by combining facerecognition software with the 3D information provided by a stereo camera. an animated computer display that shows different emotions to reveal its state. 4 . the head-post algorithm keys in on how facial features change during movement. When the user looks away. To identify orientation. hallways and handhelds in everyday business is a question that will not be answered for years. Whether SAM or Cricket or Raw ever find their way into the conference rooms. Researcher Harold Fox demonstrated SAM.scientist and technical director of the Intelligent Room. the researchers hope to mount the tracking system on robots to improve navigation. Instead of prefacing commands by saying "computer. the user just looks at the graphic. It's much more robust. "With the stereo cameras. Copyright Technology Review 2002. we can not only record the background image. Among other applications.

with the wireless technology. The wireless technology is now advanced and better communications and transferring of data are expected. wireless communications and video-power-hungry applications that would benefit from Raw's all-in-one design. it is a Very small. messaging. 3. What is project oxygen? Computers that are pervasive and invisible as the air we breathe. What is Handy 21? Oxygen's model handheld. 7. and battery life continues to be a limiting factor. What is invented to replace the handheld computers? Handy 21 6. Explain what is meant by the phrase “transform the way the world uses computers”. Later. computers can be carried around and at the same time communicate with other computers globally. with the smaller version of computers such as handheld. data management. Features of modern handhelds include calendar and diary organizing. palm top. What are handheld computers? Handheld computers have come a long way since Apple unveiled its Newton in 1993. specialized processors have made them power-hungry. Also called personal digital assistant (PDA). etc. Now. word processing. lightweight device (such as the Palm Pilot) which provides functionality approaching that of a laptop computer. Then later. 5 . netbooks computers are lighter and carrying them are much more easy and convenience. 2. 4. But higher speeds and multiple. 5. with the laptops and notebooks users can carry the computer around and can use it anytime as the computer is being carried. wireless access. remote access to firm's network. By definition. internet access. What are the limitations of handheld computers? Once little more than a glorified Rolodex. handhelds today rival the performance and range of applications of desktop PCs. Old method the computer just sits on the table and users have to go to the computer to use it.Questions: 1. What makes Handy 21 special? Prototype Handys integrate voice recognition. .

D. Neither of these ideas is correct. and even for those who are more than a little acquainted with it. pockets. How the name “Bluetooth” derived? For those who know little about the technology.What is a Bluetooth? Bluetooth is a cable replacement technology that uses radio waves to transmit data to a distance of up to 30 feet. telephone wire. the two key WPAN technologies are Bluetooth and infrared light.0 specification in 1999. to connect devices at a very close range (1 meter or less). when his sister asked for help to secure control in Norway after her husband died. Harald Blatand. Bluetooth is a cable replacement technology that uses radio waves to transmit data to a distance of up to 30 feet. pockets. He was later credited with bringing Christianity to his Viking realm. he was a skilled Viking warrior. You may wonder. users can create infrared links. By 960 A. in fact. which published the Bluetooth version 1. and briefcases. By the time Harald became king. up to a distance of 10 meters. The name Bluetooth comes from Danish history. Alternatively. What is mobile computer? Portable-computing devices that can connect by cable. A POS is the space surrounding a person. or speculate that perhaps it’s derived somehow from the founding members of the SIG. according to the story. Currently. the main peninsula of Denmark. The name is a romantic gesture that in some sense indicates the excitement the technology generates as well as the belief in its value as a revolutionary concept. and briefcases. to connect devices at a very close range (1 meter or less). who ruled Jutland. Harald quickly seized the opportunity to unite the countries and expand his kingdom. 6 . Harald was at the height of his powers. Bluetooth data can be transferred through walls. 10. or via any Internet connection to an agency's IT infrastructure and/or data systems.8. who was called Bluetooth. was the son of King Gorm the Old. users can create infrared links. Technology development for Bluetooth is driven by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). the name Bluetooth may seem odd. cellular phones. WPAN technologies enable users to establish ad hoc. So. Bluetooth data can be transferred through walls. wireless communications for devices (such as PDAs. how it relates to wireless technology. Alternatively.0 specification in 1999.. which published the Bluetooth version 1. Explain the concept of wireless network. To combine these qualities in a name required ingenuity and delving into the past. Technology development for Bluetooth is driven by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). wireless transmission. or laptops) that are used within a personal operating space (POS). 9. and ruled both Denmark and Norway.

set the alarm. To provide security. audio devices can include headsets. Call home from a remote location to turn appliances on and off. home stereos. and children's Internet surfing. It was initially developed by Swedish mobile phone maker Ericsson in 1994 as a way to let laptop computers make calls over a mobile phone.Although it’s popularly believed that King Harald had a blue tooth. 11. Explain the concept of Bluetooth. audio. and the mouse. The Bluetooth name was chosen for the wireless technology because its developers and promoters hope it will unite the mobile world. keyboards. Following are some examples of the capabilities that Bluetooth can provide consumers: • • • • • Make calls from a wireless headset connected remotely to a cell phone. Bluetooth is an always-on. often proprietary cable attachments for connection of practically any kind of communications device. Set up home networks so that a couch potato can remotely monitor air conditioning. Since then. Industry observers expect Bluetooth to be installed in billions of devices by 2005 (Business Week.4 GHz band. two Bluetooth devices within 10 m of each other can share up to 720 Kbps of capacity. it’s more likely that the Bluetooth name is the English derivative of the original Viking word. cordless and standard phones. Using the 2. Bluetooth eliminates the need for numerous. The Bluetooth standards are published by an industry consortium known as the Bluetooth SIG (special interest group). For example. Blātand. and digital MP3 players. Bluetooth is intended to support an open-ended list of applications. 18 September 2000). Bluetooth Applications Bluetooth is designed to operate in an environment of many users. Eliminate cables linking computers to printers. The concept behind Bluetooth is to provide a universal short-range wireless capability. the oven. Cable replacement. Bluetooth facilitates real-time voice and data transmissions by providing effortless wireless connection of portable and stationary communications devices. short-range radio hookup that resides on a microchip. available globally for unlicensed low-power uses. Up to eight devices can communicate in a small network called a piconet. including data (such as schedules and telephone numbers). Connections are 7 . and various stories explain how this came about. and even video. several thousand companies have signed on to make Bluetooth the low-power short-range wireless standard for a wide range of devices. graphics. Hook up MP3 players wirelessly to other machines to download music. each link is encoded and protected against eavesdropping and interference. just as King Harald united his world. Ten of these piconets can coexist in the same coverage range of the Bluetooth radio. and monitor activity. Bluetooth provides support for three general application areas using short-range wireless connectivity: • • Data and voice access points.

as long as they provide value and don't get in your way. new issues with the user interface. intelligent devices. You don't care how many there are. Louis V. they disappear. of IBM2 once said. computer science. and social sciences. Virtual reality is primarily a horsepower problem. executive VP and general manager of Hewlett-Packard. so natural." Pervasive computing has roots in many aspects of computing. but can be extended to 100 m with an optional amplifier. it was first articulated by Mark Weiser 3 in 1988 (even before the introduction of the World Wide Web) at the Computer Science Lab at Xerox PARC. it means "computers. and services everywhere. everywhere computing that does not live on a personal device of any sort but is in the woodwork everywhere. In a 1996 speech." While this may be true for Bill Gates's $53 million home. We only notice its absence.instant and are maintained even when devices are not within line of sight. applications. The range of each radio is approximately 10 m. With additional information about the environment and the context. of course. Eyeglasses are a good tool: you look at the world. That's how it should be with the computers in our lives. This is also known as invisible computing and raises. rather than its presence.. that we use it without even thinking about it. In its current form. Why is Project Oxygen known as ”Pervasive computing”? Pervasive computing describes an environment where a wide variety of devices carry out information processing tasks on behalf of users by utilizing connectivity to wide variety of networks. • Ad hoc networking. It enriches objects in the real world and makes them "smart. A device equipped with a Bluetooth radio can establish instant connection to another Bluetooth radio as soon as it comes into range. so fitting. 1 compared pervasive computing to electricity. Weiser means that the tool does not intrude on your consciousness. Gerstner. Rick Belluzo. calling it "the stage when we take computing for granted. not the tool. intuitive user interfaces are therefore required. When computers merge with physical things." Pervasive computing does not just mean "computers everywhere". they should be invisible. New. pervasive computing forces the computer to live out here in the world with people. Already you use 50 or more computers in your home. engineering. Computers and motors are infrastructure. since people do not know that they are using a computer. "Picture a day when a billion people will interact with a million e-businesses via a trillion interconnected. that level of pervasive technology hasn't trickled down to the mainstream—yet." This allows these devices to better assist people. Pervasive computing creates an augmented reality. you focus on the task. 8 . 4 In his opinion. pervasive computing is roughly the opposite of virtual reality. Where virtual reality puts people inside a computer-generated world. By invisible. Jr. not the eyeglasses. these devices become better tools for the people using them. Its highest ideal is to make a computer so embedded. networks. The trick is to build devices to match people's activities that are related sets of tasks. 12. Weiser also calls this invisible. pervasive computing is a difficult integration of human factors.

keyboards. you won't notice you are using lots of them. very little of our current system infrastructure will survive.Money delivery through a computer network Cash Registers . 13. 14. an high-tech office that doubles as a vision-interface research lab. a location-aware computing system. But this will not be easy. which is just the point: successful invisible computers won't be thought of as computers. animation softwares.Images just like those from standard cameras Electric Instruments . stereo camera.Direction-giving devices and maps built into cars Digital Cameras .e Softwares that are involved in Cricket. • • • • • • ATM Machines . face recognition software. speakers. Eg: Computers. Video Camera. 9 . (i. a low-power. the Intelligent Room.Electronic simulation of guitars. The list includes many things you wouldn't think of as computers.A service to people who still use calculators even though they are sitting in front of a computer. (i. etc. audio devices. a location-aware computing system. Additionally. a low-power.Calculators that are used in checkout counters Navigation Systems . this vision requires a simplified consumer-marketing strategy that focuses on customer solutions instead of technology products. and the Raw microprocessor. drums Calculators . ultra-programmable chip designed to power the handheld devices of the 21st century). microphones. ultra-programmable chip designed to power the handheld devices of the 21st century). So. Identify all the hardwares that are involved in Project Oxygen. Identify all the softwares that are involved in Project Oxygen.Realizing such a mass market revolution will involve new types of strategic planning that will connect individual organizations from different industries into an intricate network of alliances and interest groups. . Networking software. the Intelligent Room.e Hardwares that are involved in Cricket. an high-tech office that doubles as a vision-interface research lab. Examples of Invisible Appliances Here are some examples of information appliances. and the Raw microprocessor.