“Our goal is to develop experiences that people love. Randomly applying context can easily result in a negative experience. The key to making context work is people-centered design, and for us, that begins with working out what people love.” Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and head of Interaction & Experience Research at Intel Labs.

IT research analysts often tend to make generic predictions. Most of them are unanimous however that context-aware computing is one of the hottest emerging enterprise technologies. A key enterprise trend in 2011, Gartner claims context information is set to be a $12 billion market in 2012.

Simply put, context awareness is leveraging information about the user to enhance the quality of the interaction. Enhanced services in the future will lead to more specific location, mapping presence, social data, and other environmental information to clearly anticipate any existing user's immediate needs. This in turn, enables the vendor to offer more sophisticated, situation-aware and specific usable functions.

Context Aware Devices

The term context awareness emerged from ubiquitous computing in the early 90s. Simply put, context-awareness can help you intelligently sift through available options and make a more intelligent choice. Integrated into gadgets, it will let you know what choices were made in the past, whether you liked those choices and then make suggestions based on existing data.

Context-aware devices use a combination of “hard sensing”: raw physical data about the user. This coupled with “soft sensing”: information on preferences and data gathered from social websites can give more insight on user preferences. In a competitive world, most companies invest heavily in more detailed information on usage patterns.

There are numerous technologies in vogue that give insightful data on the user, such as, predictive analytics, business intelligence, data warehousing etc. Context-aware computing however is different from any existing technology due to a large amount of actionable content.

The technology has applications in multiple verticals including web vendors, handset manufacturers, social networking vendors, and mobile network operators and communications infrastructure companies.

Intelligent Interfaces

The software examines and reacts to any individual’s changing context. Challenges in the field include updating data, sensing location conditions, and overall development of the area. Any technological evolution needs relevant human inputs. Context-awareness has a pervasive influence in homes, workplaces, civil and military domains. The systems sense, gather, represent and interpret ideas.

Where does the future lie? Context-aware computing in the future involves conceptualizing and designing different products, getting an assessment in the real world, making changes inline and repeated iterations until every user is satisfied.

The real power of context is in automated reasoning. In context-oriented computing, data captured from different sources can be used by different service providers using multiple algorithms. In various ecosystems, context-oriented computing acts as a smart advisor: it recommends a series of alternatives. The telecom industry is potentially the biggest money-spinner for the industry.

With one of the highest spends globally, and location based services on an upswing, it is poised to be a big enterprise market. Incorporated into smartphones, the mobile executive can use context-aware computing to enhance individual productivity. Using a variety of apps that act as personal assistants, context-aware computing devices can effectively predict what choices are going to be beneficial.

The Future

Although, context-aware computing and its applications seem like a scene out of a science-fiction movie, the future may be closer than you think. Context mobility including what Tom Cruise displayed in ‘Minority Report’ may be in the offing sooner than any of us realize. Big retail stores are already using smartphone applications, such as, RedLaser.

The technology has multiple differentiators working in its advantage including cross-application development, hyper-personalization, augmented reality, model-driven user experience et al.

The enterprise benefits in the long-term due to collaborative networking, increased productivity of knowledge workers in a globalized economy, and making consumer interactions more qualitative and information-driven.

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