The Cambridge-MIT Institute has launched the Pervasive Computing Community to explore the challenges of a world where computers are burgeoning in numbers and influence even as they shrink in size.
Researchers from Cambridge University and MIT will collaborate with students, industrial partners and other organizations to explore the challenges of a networked wireless world. The Pervasive Computing Community will work on issues involved in letting computer users be genuinely "nomadic" and to be able to access information everywhere. Researchers will also work on developing new computer vision and speech processing technologies that will make it easier for people to interact with computers.
Research will focus on:
--Security--finding ways to make user interfaces more robust against unauthorized use when computing devices are everywhere (for example, bank cash machines and palm-held devices).
--Peer-to-peer systems--creating robust networks that can spread information anonymously (for example, networks that can disseminate news in countries with strict censorship).
--Immersive systems--designing systems that will, for example, let a user start a conversation with a colleague via a desktop PC, and then automatically reconfigure the connection and keep it going as the users move around and switch to a mobile phone or handheld device.
--Power efficiency--improving battery power on wireless computing devices and finding new processor architectures designed to conserve power to free up users to do even more computing on the move.
--Computer vision and speech processing technology--finding new ways to communicate with computing devices in human ways (gestures, for example) rather than in "computer ways" (i.e., becoming expert at using a keyboard, mouse and operating system).
"Within the next decade, many of us will be fully immersed in a nomadic lifestyle in which we will demand instant access to data and information for education, work and play, no matter where we are," said Professor Victor Zue, co-director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who is leading the Pervasive Computing Community at MIT. "We will work cooperatively to meet some of the challenges posed by this change in lifestyle."
"It's not just about research, however," said research scientist Umar Saif of CSAIL. "Alongside the innovations that will ensue from the research collaboration, we're equally interested in innovations in methods of knowledge exchange, in mechanisms for translating such revolutionary research into commercial products, and in engaging the public sector to benefit from this community of world-class researchers."
For more information, go to http://www.cambridge-mit.org.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 31, 2004.