Justin Rattner, Intel:
Context Awareness is Future of Experience-Driven Design
September 16, 2010
The future of
computing lies in rich, context-driven user experiences, Intel Vice
President, Director of Intel Labs and Intel Chief Technology Officer and
Senior Fellow Justin Rattner told his keynote audience today at the
Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
Rattner described how context awareness is poised to fundamentally
change the nature of how we interact with and relate to information
devices and the services they provide. With computing devices having
increased processing power, improved connectivity and innovative sensing
capabilities, Intel researchers are focused on delivering new
“context-aware” user experiences. “Context-aware” devices will
anticipate your needs, advise you, and guide you through your day in a
manner more akin to a personal assistant than a traditional computer.
“Context aware” computing, via a combination of hard and soft sensors,
will open up new opportunities for developers to create the next
generation of products on Intel platforms.
Context: The Foundation for Future Experience-Driven Design
Rattner said “context aware”
computing is fundamentally different than the simple kinds of
sensor-based applications we see today.
“My GPS coordinates and compass heading don’t tell my smartphone all
that much about me,” said Rattner. “Imagine a device that uses a variety
of sensory modalities to determine what you are doing at an instant,
from being asleep in your bed to being out for a run with a friend. By
combing hard sensor information such as where you are and the conditions
around you combined with soft sensors such as your calendar, your social
network and past preferences, future devices will constantly learn about
who you are, how you live, work and play. As your devices learn about
your life, they can begin to anticipate your needs. Imagine your PC
advising you leave the house 10 minutes early for your next appointment
due to a traffic tie-up on your way to work. Consider a “context aware”
remote control that instantly determines who is holding it and
automatically selects the Smart TV preferences for that person. All this
may sound like science fiction, but this is the promise of
“context-aware” computing and we can already demonstrate much of it in
To provide an example, Rattner was joined onstage by Tim Jarrell, vice
president and publisher of Fodor’s Travel. Jarrell showed Fodor’s
experimental Personal Vacation Assistant running on a mobile Internet
device and designed in conjunction with Intel. The PVA uses a variety of
context sources such as personal travel preferences, previous
activities, current location and calendar information to provide
real-time travel recommendations to vacationers. The PVA can even
generate, at the user’s request, a travel blog with annotated photos and
videos visited during the trip.
Rattner also showed the Socially ENabled Services (SENS) research
project that provides the ability to sense and understand your real-time
activities and, if you choose to do so, share that knowledge “live and
direct” to networked friends and family through animated avatars on
whatever screen, be it PC, smartphone, or TV, is handy.
“While we’re developing all of these new ways of sensing, gathering and
sharing contextual data, we are even more focused on ensuring privacy
and security as billions of devices get connected and become much
smarter.” Rattner said. “Our vision is to enable devices to generate and
use contextual information for a greatly enhanced user experience while
ensuring the safety and privacy of an individual’s personal information.
Underlying this new level of security are several forthcoming Intel
hardware-enabled techniques that dramatically improve the ability of all
computing devices to defend against possible attacks.”
Making context work
compelling user experiences requires deep knowledge and understanding of
consumer behavior and preferences. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and head
of Interaction & Experience Research at Intel Labs, joined Rattner
onstage to talk about the fundamentals of experience design.
“Our goal is to develop experiences that people love,” Bell said.
“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.”
At the end of his keynote, Rattner presented the ultimate example of
sensing – a human brain-computer interface. Through the Human Brain
project, Intel’s aim is to enable people to one day use their thoughts
to directly interact with computers and mobile devices. In a joint
project with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of
Pittsburgh, Intel Labs is investigating what can be inferred about a
person's cognitive state from their pattern of neural activity.