Communicating with smart objects ;developing technology for usable pervasive computing systems
At its most basic, a ‘smart object' is a physical device equipped with a processor, memory, at least one network connection, and various sensors/actuators, some of which may correspond to (input/output) human interfaces. It receives joint inputs from its environment and/or the user through its sensors, from other smart objects or software processes through its network connections. A smart object also has the ability to update its current internal state and to produce combined outputs through its actuators and the networks. Smart objects range from the simplest to the most complex devices, for example, from electronic tags to networked appliances or networked robots, and from heart-rate monitors to wireless-enabled PDAs. Until recently, information and communication technology has concentrated on pure processing, storage and transmission, on communication between humans, or between humans and stored information. This book covers the new technological range of capabilities coming from the generalized combination of physical interaction with networking and processing. It is primarily in this respect that smart objects have a truly revolutionary potential. An object is ‘smart', first and foremost, because it can communicate and interact with its environment. Yet how much autonomy and proactivity should a smart object be capable of for this generalized, spontaneous communication to come to fruition? Finally, and most importantly, how and when will smart objects come to be used in real-life applications?