(This entry was posted on Innovation at HP Labs by Simon Firth, a freelance technology journalist)
We’re all familiar with IT services that use contexts, like our location or shopping history, to help us find what we’re are searching for – from a movie to see tonight in our neighborhood, to books that others have enjoyed, to people we might want to ‘friend’ on social networks.
Such contexts are going to be increasingly important to us, believes Min Wang, director of HP Labs China. “We have information available to us in such a volume and in so many dimensions, that we’re facing a huge challenge in how we sort it out,” she says.
Wang is leading a team charged with exploring how thinking about context aware computing in new ways can help us find what we need in the age of big data – for both people and for companies looking to deliver services to the enterprise.
Among the consumer-focused projects being pursued by the HPL China researchers are a coupon recommendation application that combines a user’s web browsing history and social networking activity to present more attractive coupons, and an extension of the HP Smart Print tool that predicts which areas of a webpage you’ll want to print based on other users’ earlier print choices.
In the enterprise space, Wang and her colleagues have been using context to improve IT support, database search functionality, and the functioning of networks.
Their next step is really ambitious: to go beyond application-specific solutions and “ask what it would take to build a general purpose framework for context-aware computing that takes advantage of existing cloud and database techniques,” says Wang.
Read more about HP Labs China research in context aware computing here.