September 08, 2003

The topic of my PhD thesis: Individual Service Provisioning

I successfully defended my PhD thesis on February 7th, 2003. This text describes its topic. The full thesis is available online under the link Publications and Documents.

The Candidates work applies to the broad area of human-computer interaction as well as to the areas of software engineering and service provisioning. The results are applicable as a fairly non-debatable description of a theoretical base line for the work ahead within ubiquitous computing.

Electronic services are the tools for interaction between humans and computer systems in a new model of human-computer interaction. In this new model services are omnipresent and the devices with which to access them vary from stationary PCs, to mobile phones, to embedded computers. The service providers also change. Traditional providers are slow moving and large software houses, whose large monolithic software applications have been installed on countless PCs. In the new model there is a need for more flexible and dynamic providers who can adapt to shifting currents and who are able to profit in smaller niche markets which open up in the future.

The mismatch between the supply and demand of software in this new world is already highly evident in the failure of the large corporations to profit during the first steps into this new market place; mobile services distributed over telco channels have hitherto been a great disappointment.

The work of the Candidate pertains to this domain of a future world of electronic services and can be summarized in three points: first, the Candidate has designed and implemented a software platform for humans to store, execute, and interact with electronic services, second, the Candidate has designed and implemented a sub-system to the main platform, which allows users to create their own services from smaller building blocks, and third, the Candidate has designed and implemented a sub-system to the main platform, which allows user-created services to be provisioned among other users. The resulting system allows individual users to create for themselves fitting electronic services which may be used in the personal platform but which are also published and provisioned for the benefit of other users. This concept fundamentally changes our perception of who is the service provider and who is the service consumer. It also allows for unlimited flexibility and adaptability for a changing service market space.

In the field of Ubiquitous Computing the future computing environment is described both in terms of underlying infrastructure and requirements on hardware and networking technologies but also in terms of the users' experiences. In this vision, all computing relevant to mainstream users will be permeated in the fabric of every day life - its situations and its artifacts. The current state of the art describes, among other things, wireless networking technologies, context gathering infrastructure, miniature hardware solutions, etc. What is missing is the underlying and encompassing software layer which will tie together all appliances and access devices and services. The Candidate's work describes one possible such software infrastructure which although it may not be the final answer, goes a long way to bridge the gap between the personal computer interaction model and the ubiquitous computing interaction model.

Posted by fredespi at September 8, 2003 05:47 PM