Keynote Speech

Coordination in cooltown: a content-oriented approach to nomadic computing

In a "pervasive" or "ubiquitous" computing environment, microprocessors and thus software components are embedded in many everyday objects. Users carrying portable devices such as personal digital assistants are able to access those objects: the users' devices and the resources in the environment are networked, typically wirelessly. Moreover, even simple, non-electronic objects such as books and supermarket products are increasingly being augmented with virtual resources such as web pages, resources that can be accessed by physically identifying the objects. In short, the average number of networked resources per cubic metre is rising, and those resources are becoming accessible in hitherto unexploited places and situations. A fundamental problem is that of how to manage interactions between these myriad handheld and environmental resources so that they fall under a scope that is appropriate for applications. That scope should also be of reasonable size so as not to overload our systems. In particular, those are issues for nomadic users, who want to set up associations between their portable devices and the resources in their environment. In my talk, I shall discuss the challenges and opportunities of being able to associate and coordinate resources. I shall describe HP's cooltown project, which is tackling those problems. In particular, I shall describe a 'content-oriented' -- as opposed to object-oriented -- approach to this type of computing. The content-oriented approach is embodied in the Web and I shall deal with the question of how the Web's success can be translated into the design of systems for nomadic users.

Biographical information

Tim Kindberg is a senior researcher at HP labs in Palo Alto, where he is a member of the cooltown project. He was formerly a senior lecturer in Computer Science at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. He has a long-standing interest in distributed systems (he is co-author of 'Distributed Systems -- concepts and design') and, more recently, systems for supporting nomadic and collaborating users. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Westminster and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge.