Adaptive Interfaces in Mobile Environments: An Approach Based on Mobile Agents

Adaptive Interfaces in Mobile Environments: An Approach Based on Mobile Agents

Nikola Mitrovic (University of Zaragoza, Spain), Eduardo Mena (University of Zaragoza, Spain) and Jose Alberto Royo (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-871-0.ch019
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Mobility for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) is a challenging problem, as different GUIs need to be constructed for different device capabilities and changing context, preferences and users’ locations. GUI developers frequently create multiple user interface versions for different devices. The solution lies in using a single, abstract, user interface description that is used later to automatically generate user interfaces for different devices. Various techniques are proposed to adapt GUIs from an abstract specification to a concrete interface. Design-time techniques have the possibility of creating better performing GUIs but, in contrast to run-time techniques, lack flexibility and mobility. Run-time techniques’ mobility and autonomy can be significantly improved by using mobile agent technology and an indirect GUI generation paradigm. Using indirect generation enables analysis of computer-human interaction and application of artificial intelligence techniques to be made at run-time, increasing GUIs’ performance and usability.

Key Terms in this Chapter

User Interface Plasticity: A user interface’s capacity to preserve usability regardless of variations in systems’ hardware specification or operating environment.

Indirect User Interface Generation: A method in which the mobile agent requiring user interaction does not create a user interface directly, but passes the user interface definition to another agent (specialized for the user and his mobile device) that creates the above mentioned user interface and acts as an intermediary between the user and the agent that requires interaction with the user.

Transparency: Automatic adaptation to specific conditions or circumstances without implicit or explicit intervention from the user, user interface designer or software developer.

Multi-Agent System: A system that allows concurrent operation and communication of multiple (mobile) agents.

Mobile Agent: A program that executes autonomously on a set of network hosts on behalf of an individual or organization. One of the key features of such agents is mobility.

Design-Time User Interface Adaptation: Manual adaptation of the user interface by a designer, analyst or software developer.

Abstract User Interface Definition: Platform-independent and technology-neutral description of the user interface.

Run-Time User Interface Adaptation: Automatic adaptation of the user interface by a program during its execution.

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