A Context-Aware Framework for Collaborative Activities in Pervasive Communities

A Context-Aware Framework for Collaborative Activities in Pervasive Communities

Christopher Lima (Universidade de Aveiro, Instituto de Telecomunicações, Aveiro, Portugal), Mário Antunes (Universidade de Aveiro, Instituto de Telecomunicações, Aveiro, Portugal), Diogo Gomes (Universidade de Aveiro, Instituto de Telecomunicações, Aveiro, Portugal), Rui Aguiar (Universidade de Aveiro, Instituto de Telecomunicações, Aveiro, Portugal) and Telma Mota (Portugal Telecom Inovação, Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijdst.2014040103
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Abstract

Pervasive environments involve the interaction of users with the objects that surround them and also other participants. In this way, pervasive communities can lead the user to participate beyond traditional pervasive spaces, enabling the cooperation among groups taking into account not only individual interests, but also the collective and social context. In this study, the authors explore the potential of using context-aware information in CSCW application in order to support collaboration in pervasive environments. In particular this paper describes the approach used in the design and development of a context-aware framework utilizing users' context information interpretation for behaviour adaptation of collaborative applications in pervasive communities.
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Introduction

Pervasive environments have achieved a matured level, thanks to the advance of the technology, mainly through sensors and a growing variety of mobile devices. By combining these smart spaces with social computing it is possible to create a richer environment in which real world and virtual information can be utilized to meet the user needs. Smart spaces provide an environment aware of context information that enables users to interact electronically with other users and devices in their environment and to perform their activities.

Context information can be any relevant information available about location, users, services, devices and their relationships. In addition, the information available in social network sites can also be useful for pervasive systems as context information, where the changes of environment are important to offer powerful ways of working and communicating.

Social computing has recently become a subject of study in a variety of areas related to context-adaptive systems. Context-adaptive systems are systems that can dynamically adapt their behaviour at run-time in response to changes in context information such as: users’ preferences, operational environments, and underlying infrastructure (Hussein, Han, Colman, & Yu, 2012).

In the present scenario, pervasive systems lack the ability to deal with social group context, besides the individual. Recently, FP7 SOCIETIES project tries to tackle the creation of communities of smart spaces, investigating group context information, privacy and preferences. The communities of smart spaces envisage the integration of pervasive with social fields to provide personal smart spaces that can move along the users providing group capabilities following the users’ interests.

Even though the pervasive environments can support large and small groups, usually collaborative activities happen often in small groups of up to 10-15 people (Farshchian & Divitini, 2010). Furthermore, several of these activities in smart spaces may involve users collaborating common tasks where collaborative applications take advantage as we state in (C. Lima et al., 2012).

In order to demonstrate the synergy of collaborative activities, pervasive communities and social computing, we present a context-aware framework for collaborative applications, which envisages cooperation in pervasive environments.

The goals of the framework are to:

  • Provide adaptability for communication, coordination and relationships to CSCW.

  • Facilitate collaborative work by providing pro-active behaviour for collaborative tools.

  • Enhance collaboration work taking into account mobility of the users and physical distribution.

  • Provide cooperation among users based on physical and social interaction.

This article is organized as follows: section “Background” presents a background regarding the framework which involves social computing, context-awareness in groups, CSCW systems and pervasive communities. Section “Related Work” explores the previous work in groups for pervasive environments and context aware applications for CSCW. Section “Framework Overview” describes the framework architecture, highlighting the new developed features and issues that have been addressed during the implementation. Finally, section “Conclusions” provides conclusions and directions for future work.

Background

In this section we introduce with more details the background domain that formed the basis for the design and development of the context-aware framework for CSCW applications. The domain areas involve social computing, context awareness and pervasive computing with focus on communities.

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