Trinity College Dublin, Department of Computer Science
Dobson, Simon. 'Where's Waldo? - or - A taxonomy for thinking about location in pervasive computing'. - Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Computer Science, TCD-CS-2004-05, 2004, pp13
Computer Science Technical Report TCD-CS-2004-05
[Introduction] Virtually all pervasive computing systems use some form of location for affecting
the system's behaviour. Location-based services are available commercially,
albeit in a primitive form, from many mobile telecommunications providers.
Despite this, location is a remarkably subtle concept to reason with. There are
a huge number of possible answers to what is superficially a simple question:
each kind of answer reveals something about the way in which we conceptualise
location and any services based upon it.
This may seem like a trivial observation, but it cuts to the heart of the development
of programming environments for pervasive computing. Software design
is the process of mapping concepts to programming structures, whether one is
developing object models or complete programming languages. A system is easy
to program when the developer can express his concepts directly or with minimal
mental gymnastics; conversely, the developer takes on a considerable load
when using a system without the requisite concepts. Handling location is a basic
requirement for many pervasive computing systems: but what kind of location
will we provide in a programming environment? If we choose the "wrong" representation
we will end up with an awkward (or unusable) environment.
In this paper we try to exhaust the ways one may answer a simple location
question in a pervasive computing system, to develop a taxonomy of answers
that an application might want to receive. We deliberately stray beyond the
bounds of traditional location systems and the information typically at hand in
order to see how a "really pervasive" computing system might view location.
We analyse the space of answers to see what conclusions can be drawn for the
development of semantic models and programming environments.
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