18 May

The invisible user and the challenge for a transparent technology: Greenhaviour, the VIAC challenge and more…

What is behind the huge expansion of smartphones?  They are changing the way we live, but can they also change the way cities, and even the planet, will continue to develop?  We already use mobile phones for a variety of uses; phone calls, SMS messages, emails, but what if we could enable smart phones to leverage their multi-tasking capabilities to become fully aware of their surroundings.

Twitter client on a mobile phone

The challenge is to create a system that allows us to apply intelligence to a crowd by using their mobile phones to seamlessly monitor and transmit data, without having a performance impact on their phone, that can enhance the users’ experience as well as benefiting the community at large.

The key aspect of the “Internet of Things” is to put computation power into things like cars, appliances, roads, power-grids, clothes – and why not people!?  The Viac challenge is living proof that we can put intelligence into cars, and the Greenhaviour project allows one device to seamlessly broadcast environmental data to twitter, a map, and a database for further analysis without any human interaction.  If we could apply the Greenhaviour project to a whole community we could anaylse the results in all sorts of different ways to truly visualise the environment that people live in.  We could also add user interactions into the mix – for example, the Narrahand projectcreates invisible relationships between users in their daily lives.

Once we have obtained the data, it is simply a case of analysing it to discover all sorts of trends and develop detailed models.  In the next three months on the road, we will monitor the environment, the actual performance of the phone, and the quality of the data in extreme conditions – high temperatures, dusty roads, lack of mobile network coverage, and most importantly, no user interactions – to truly realise the paradigm of a lone-star system, the device is able to live and be alive.

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