MobiCraNT – Second Generation Mobile Cross-media Applications – Scalability, Heterogeneity
This project aims to explore software engineering principles and pat- terns for the next generation of mobile applications, which run on smartphones featuring various sensors, RFID-readers and GPS-chips, blurring the distinction between clients and servers of in- formation and thus inducing fluid information spaces. On the other hand, we see the rise of new interface modalities such as voice interaction, digital pen and paper, gestures and so on. The goal of MobiCraNT is to come up with a multi-paradigm distributed software development model and in- novative information concepts for the representation of open and fluid cross-media documents to be used by the multimodal interaction that will be part of the second generation of mobile cross-media applications.
Today's mobile applications typically run on PDAs, follow a client-server division, and rely on traditional user interfaces such as keyboard, stylus or touchscreen. This landscape is changing swiftly. On the one hand we see the advent of Smartphones featuring various sensors, RFID-readers and GPS-chips, blurring the distinction between clients and servers of information. On the other hand, we see the rise of new interface modalities such as voice interaction, digital pen and paper, gestures and so on. These observations lead us to conclude that we are entering an era of mobile cross-media applications that (a) operate in a heterogenous distributed setting and that (b) interact using cross-media technology. This research proposal aims at the development of software engineering principles and patterns for the development of such applications. The proposed research elaborates and combines the unique research areas developed by both project partners: (a) The SOFT Lab is at the cradle of the Ambient-Oriented Programming paradigm. It is a pioneer in the design of distributed mobile programming technology that runs atop wirelessly connected devices. The research has accumulated in two PhDs, five projects, numerous publications and the Dahl-Nygard price, named after the inventors of OOP. (b) The WISE Lab has a unique expertise in Cross-Media Information Systems. Prof. B. Signer recently joined WISE after leading the Interactive Paper Lab at ETH Zurich. The lab has developed an advanced interactive paper software platform, which lead to two PhDs, numerous publications and several national and international projects. The research targets software technologies for the construction of mobile cross-media applications that are 2nd generation in three senses: * As mentioned earlier, we observe that the mobile hardware landscape is entering a new era. We propose to develop a second generation software platform that integrates ambient programming technologies (originally conceived for traditional handheld devices) with cross-media software technology (originally conceived for non-distributed applications). * In the past decade, both labs have focussed on fundamental concepts needed to develop mobile as well as cross-media applications of the first generation. The research has been mainly driven by homogenous and/or in-lab hardware and software platforms. The resulting concepts and technologies will need to be adapted towards heterogeneity and scale. This shift in focus is similar to how OOP changed its research agenda from single objects and classes towards patterns and frameworks in the mid-nineties. * The contacted companies have already developed mobile applications with limited extensibility in terms of new types of hardware and software platforms as well as the integration of new devices and (cross-) media types is problematic. We plan to inventory these mobile legacy applications and taxonomise their needs in order to move towards problem-driven techniques that will facilitate second generation applications which are more scalable, more open and less handcrafted.