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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
August 29, 2003

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop New Context Aware Mobile Phone

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University professors Asim Smailagic and Dan Siewiorek with a team of talented students from the College of Engineering, the School of Computer Science and the Human Computer Interaction Institute have developed a new context aware mobile phone technology that can keep track of a multitude of everyday details in a person's life — the email sent, the phone calls made and the user's location. The phone also adapts to dynamically changing environmental and psychological conditions.

In addition to manipulating ringer volume, vibration and phone alerts, SenSay can provide remote callers with the ability to communicate the urgency of their calls, make call suggestions to users when they are idle and provide the caller with feedback on the current status of the user.

Smailagic, who unveiled his new Pervasive and Context Aware Computing this summer at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, has discovered that "presence" information — a worker's location, availability and connectivity, which appears on the desktop as a window or icon — can be integrated into a variety of other business software applications.

"It has become very easy to stay in touch with people in the past several years, as mobile technologies, voice mail and email have replaced secretaries and telephones' busy signals," said Smailagic, a senior researcher at Carnegie Mellon's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems.

But this new SenSay mobile phone technology can boost productivity even further by helping people at different stages in the business process reduce the time it takes to hand off or receive information.

"The new context aware mobile phone lets you get to the experts because you can see if they are available," said Smailagic. The new software allows individuals to create delivery rules specifying which information they want to see and where and when it should be sent. The technology can be used by both commercial and consumer markets, Carnegie Mellon researchers said.

Smailagic reports that the new SenSay technology can easily establish communication via a cell phone or wireless-enabled handheld phone. At present, this technology uses sensors like accelerometers, thermometers, light and microphones mounted in a wearable unit on the human body to provide data about the user. Carnegie Mellon researchers are testing the technology right now in the field, and a handful of industry analysts have been briefed about the technology, according to Smailagic.

And after some initial field tests, industry analysts report that the new SenSay technology will not only increase data traffic on their networks, but also place the cell phone even more squarely at the center of people's daily lives.


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