Context Toolkit: Tutorial: Upcoming Features

Here, I will list the set of features I would like to add to the context toolkit. Again, this list is not complete, but just contains what I could think of off the top of my head. Feel free to let me know what features you would like to see and I'll do my best to get them added. Conversely, if you add any interesting features, please let me know and I'll add them to my system, making them available for other users.

Basic Features

In this section, I will describe the basic features that I would like to add to the context toolkit.
Resource Discovery
In order for two components to communicate with each other, the initiator has to know the hostname, port, and id of the component it wants to communicate with. In reality, a component should not need to know this information. It should only need to know what how to describe the desired component. For example, an application wanting to know when anyone enters a room should be able to automatically find any components (widgets/servers in this case) that can provide this information. Resource discovery will help support this task.
Once resource discovery is available, a visualization of the various running components (widgets, servers, interpreters, and applications) can be developed. This would show which components are communicating with other components, either sporadically (poll, request for information) or continuously (subscription) and the data that is being passed between components. This should help with debugging a complex system.
Conditions Operators
The Conditions object is a collection of individual Condition objects.This collection is interpreted as an AND'ed set of conditions. In other words, when a component subscribes to a widget and sets a list of conditions, all of the conditions must be true in order for data to be returned to the component. I would like to extend this to support NOTs and ORs, to permit greater flexibility.

Advanced Features

In this section, I will describe advanced features that I would like to add to the context toolkit.
Ambiguity Support
Currently, the context toolkit assumes that all the context collected is 100% accurate. This is not always the case (in fact, this is quite infrequent), but is a common simplifying assumption made. I would like to add support for dealing with ambiguous context. This includes: Jen Mankoff (a fellow PhD student) and I have started work on the last of these three support mechanisms. For more information on this, look at Jen's research on Errata.
With the ability to easily sense and pass context information around, there is an increased need to limit access to the information that we consider personal or private. David Nguyen (a fellow PhD student) is working on a system that will help people manage, distribute and sense the flow of personal information in a ubiquitous computing environment, in a project called Smoke & Mirrors.We have added the ability to send an authentication id with a request for context history. Obviously David's work goes far beyond this simple addition and as he makes progress, I will update the context toolkit.

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Last Modified: Feburary 11, 2000
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