System Support for Pervasive Applications


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38 System Support for Pervasive Applications Robert Grimm1 and Brian Bershad2 1 2 New York University New York NY rgrimm cs nyu edu University of Washington Seattle WA bershad cs washington edu 38 1 Introduction Pervasive or ubiquitous computing 38 4 has the potential to radically transform the way people interact with computers The key idea behind pervasive computing is to deploy a wide variety of computing devices throughout our living and working spaces These devices coordinate with each other and network services with the goal of seamlessly assisting people in completing their tasks Pervasive computing thus marks a major shift in focus away from the actual computing technology and towards people and their needs To illustrate this shift in focus consider for example researchers working in a biology laboratory Their goal is to perform reproducible experiments Yet today they manually log individual steps in their paper notebooks This easily leads to incomplete experimental records and makes it unnecessarily hard to share data with other researchers as the biologists need to explicitly enter the data into their PCs In contrast a digital laboratory employs digitized instruments such as pipettes and incubators to automatically capture data location sensors to track researchers movements and touchscreens throughout the laboratory to display experimental data close to the researchers As a result biologists working in the digital laboratory have more complete records of their experiments and can more easily share results with their colleagues For this vision to become a reality we need system support that directly helps with building deploying and using pervasive applications However contemporary system services typically assume a static and well administered computing environment Furthermore they tend to hide distribution from applications with the result that if changes occur people need to adapt the system instead of the applications adapting for them For example with

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