Information Technology Reference
In-Depth Information
2.2 Environment-distributed systems
As mentioned earlier, dynamic adaptability of systems to ever-changing
user needs is achievable by setting aside the traditional interaction
modality: fix workstations disappear and mobile devices gain renewed
importance. Computing systems are distributed into the environment and
communicate by short- or long-range wireless networks. Differently from
their desktop counterparts, these computing devices are designed as task-
specific , with stringent limitations to their energy consumption so that
memory and processing capacity are equal to what is needed to accomplish
the task and not more. For these systems, the interface itself serves to
communicate directly to the user the capabilities of the system and its
current state of cooperation with neighbouring devices; no need for a
special training, but rather a means that let the user intuitively infer what
the device can do for him. The interface is no longer a shell around the
computing system inside but rather a layer transforming user actions into
commands for the underlying device, without exclusively controlling the
dialogue with the user.
Now that computing devices are distributed into the environment and
each of them is dedicated to a specific task, how is the user going to interact
with them? Weiser suggests in [1] to use ' many many displays ', maybe
reusing those already available around, such as TV screens or picture frames.
Touchscreens and voice interaction may serve as input devices. In all cases,
input and output terminals are uncoupled from the distributed computer
systems and connect to it via wireless links.
The fundamental purpose for these new systems is to make the computer
a mere instrument, no longer being the focus of the interaction. It is
embedded as a secondary artefact in many everyday life objects, which
maintains aspect, purpose and functionality according to their common
use, augmenting them for processing and digital information exchange
capabilities [5].
Evolving hardware
Initially conceived to replace man in repetitive calculations, computers have
evolved into real assistants for many human tasks. The human-computer
symbiosis envisioned by Licklider in 1960 [11] was a radical intuition at that
time and it took 20 years to become the real purpose behind using a personal
computer (PC). From instruments useful for many tasks, computers are today
a means of communication, thanks to the tremendous spreading of World
Wide Web and its technologies (Figure 1).
Search WWH ::

Custom Search