Ubiquitous computing, in the traditional sense, is based on the vision of making the computers invisible, Kyng suggests. “The problem is that when the technology is invisible you can’t see what it is doing, how it functions or comprehend it.”
Anyone who has tried to connect their mobile phone to their laptop can attest to that. But while the invisibility of ubiquitous computing technology may be a mere inconvenience for many, in some cases it can be a serious, even life-threatening problem. A breakdown in communications that cannot be quickly fixed during a natural disaster can cost lives, as too can interoperability failures in hospital equipment.
By making the technology visible when it needs to be and comprehensible all the time, palpable computing reduces the complications of using the technology, while opening the door to developers creating new applications more easily.
The vision of ubiquitous computing has focused on tools honed through use over time and well suited to what they are designed to do, comments Kyng. “The problems arise when you want or need to do something new or different from what the designers intended: the user is not really in control,” he adds.
Over the last four years, Kyng has led a team of more than a hundred researchers from across Europe working on making palpable computing a reality. They have developed software architecture for palpable computing systems as well as a toolbox for developers to create applications that has recently been made available under an open source licence. The researchers, who received EU funding in the PalCom project, also developed several test platforms that have served to highlight the benefits of their approach.
One of them was used when the Tall Ships’ Races – the world’s biggest competition for sailing ships – visited Aarhus in July 2007. The platform enabled police and fire fighters to interact with a three-dimensional (3D) workspace of the Aarhus harbour and its surroundings, displaying the location of key personnel, cars, ships and equipment to give a general overview of what was going on.
“Large-scale events, such as the Tall Ships’ Races, can be very hard to gain an overview of. With a million visitors and a huge area, it is challenging to monitor every critical spot. In my opinion, PalCom’s technology has enormous potential – not only for events [like this] but also for monitoring major accident scenes,” notes Aarhus fire chief Jakob Andersen.
A second test platform was created to enhance therapy for disabled children, while a third was designed to help landscape architects visualise the location and assess the visual impact of large development projects (wind farms, industrial buildings, etc.).
The system involves a camera, placed on the roof of a car, connected with a laptop running an advanced 3D-visualisation programme which provides landscape architects with a much more precise indication of where a new building will be located and its impact on the surrounding landscape as they drive around.
Key markets: emergency response and healthcare
“The potential uses for palpable computing are diverse, although initially I think the key markets will be in areas, such as emergency response and healthcare, where there is an urgent need for increasingly more efficient and effective technology,” Kyng says.
The University of Aarhus and several other project partners are concentrating on the development of applications using PalCom’s architecture in those fields. Kyng’s team, for example, is applying the technology to help women through pregnancies and to improve the treatment of hip-replacement patients. One palpable computing system being developed to enhance post-surgery monitoring will allow hip patients to leave the hospital 24 hours after surgery, he estimates, rather than the current three or four days.
The PalCom coordinator notes that the trial systems have elicited considerable interest and expects the open source release of the toolbox to lead to new applications. “Ultimately, success in the marketplace will drive the technology forward,” he says.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers
17.07.2018 | University of Colorado at Boulder
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine