Activity-Based Computing : A Software Architecture for Pervasive Computing

  • Bardram, Jakob (PI)
  • Bunde-Pedersen, Jonathan (CoI)
  • Doryab, Afsaneh (CoI)
  • Gueddana, Sofiane (CoI)

    Project: Research

    Project Details


    Generally speaking, contemporary computer technology is designed according to an application- and document-centered model. This model enables users to work with specific, targeted applications that support the manipulation of particular kinds of information and performing specific tasks, like writing a letter or making a budget.

    This model is deeply embedded in the hardware, operating systems and user interface software, as well as the development frameworks available today.

    It has proven well suited for office work at a desktop, but the personal and task-oriented approach provides little support for the aggregation of resources and tools required in carrying out higher-level activities. It is left to the user to aggregate such resources and tools in meaningful bundles according to the activity at hand, and manual reconfiguration of this aggregation is often required when multi-tasking between parallel activities.

    Research shows that these problems are highly exacerbated when moving out of the office and into a highly distributed, mobile, and collaborative working environment like a hospital or any non-office working setting. Mobile and collaborative work amplify the reconfiguration overhead when users move from one work context to another, potentially using different computers and different types of devices.

    Research Objectives and Goals

    To meet these challenges, we are pursuing the concept of activity-based computing (ABC). In activity-based computing, the basic computational unit is no longer the file (e.g. a document) or the application (e.g. MS Word) but the activity of a user. The end-user is directly supported by computational activities which can be initiated, suspended, stored, resumed, and shared on any computing device in the infrastructure at any point in time, handed over to other persons, or shared among several persons asynchronously or in real time. Furthermore, the execution of activities is adapted to the usage context of the users, i.e. making activities context-aware.

    The research goals of the project are to research, design, and implement a proof-of-concept for activity-based computing, which includes an underlying infrastructure and user interfaces for end-users. These technologies are designed and evaluated in close collaboration with end-users.

    Research Activities

    The research in activity-based computing pivots around the following core research activities;

    development of a conceptual framework for activity-based computing

    design and implementation of an underlying infrastructure for activity-based computing which supports activity handling, mobile computing, collaboration, and context-aware computing

    design and implementation of novel interaction design and user interfaces for activity-based computing which runs on next-generation devices like wall-based displays, tabletop displays, handheld computers, embedded computers, and sensor networks.

    evaluation together with end-users like physicians, nurses, and biologists.

    Activity-based computing is located under the Global Interaction Research Initiative (GIRI)1, and used as a conceptual and technological foundation in several other GIRI projects, including the TrustCare project2, the Mini-Grid project3, and the Global Software Development (GSD) project.

    Effective start/end date01/01/200530/09/2010

    Collaborative partners

    • IT University of Copenhagen (lead)
    • SystematIC (Project partner)
    • Aarhus University (Project partner)
    • Medical Insight A/S (Project partner)
    • IBM (Project partner)


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