|Thesis abstract: |
The rapid advancement of wireless, mobile and pervasive technologies over the last decade has significantly changed the way humans perceive and interact with the physical world around them. The ubiquity of smart mobile phones and other devices has triggered a paradigm shift from the conventional user interaction models to more sophisticated context aware smart spaces that facilitate their inhabitants to perform their everyday tasks in seamless, comfortable and efficient manner. A smart space typically consists of sensors, displays, actuators and computational components that are seamlessly embedded in the everyday life objects and connected through network. As the smart spaces are becoming more and more ubiquitous in our lives, there is strong growing need to develop a software infrastructure to enable these distributed modules to connect and communicate with each other in a coherent and structured way.
Smart spaces are built using many heterogeneous components such as sensors, mobile devices, RFIDs, high-end servers, appliances, robots and virtual objects communicating through different wireless and wired networking channels. Moreover, different vendors develop software drivers for these devices and they are implemented using various platforms and programming languages. Due to these reasons, a middleware infrastructure is required for structuring smart spaces that can address the issues related to device integration, context management, scalability, flexibility, and reliability. The middleware should provide device and service level abstractions by defining and enforcing some common standard among all the diverse devices and available services to facilitate Interoperation among them and information exchange across multiple domains.
Though the existing middleware solutions for smart spaces are useful, most of them are either domain-specific or targeted to address a particular functional component of smart spaces. This research will investigate the existing software infrastructures available to build smart spaces and then propose a scalable, reliable and context aware middleware that will be able to facilitate the mobility of users and devices within smart spaces. Such an infrastructure is not trivial and must be designed and implemented carefully. The smart spaces of interest play a key role: an advanced home automation system has specific requirements and characteristics, while a city space, like a stadium or a big exposition area would have completely different needs and peculiarities. Clearly, also the devices and technologies that have to be integrated and blended in the smart space play a prominent role in the realization of the infrastructure. Most of the solutions address almost static smart spaces. This is why huge spaces, characterized by high dynamism and flexibility, are the focus of this research.
Identified solutions will be initially modeled properly and simulated accordingly. The joint lab with Telecom Italia will also offer the opportunity to conduct significant experiments in realistic scenarios and within appropriate technological settings.