A Context Management Framework to Support Context-Aware Pervasive Computing
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As computing devices become more pervasive and integrated with our lives, it becomes useful for these devices to understand the environment which surrounds them and the activities of their users, so that they may adapt themselves to suit the circumstances and best assist their users. To accomplish this, it is necessary that these devices have a model for expressing and sharing contextual data which characterizes the state of the surroundings, the devices and people in an environment, and the relationships between each. This thesis describes a framework for managing the exchange of contextual data between devices and sensors with information about their shared environment, with other devices whose goals are to adapt their behaviour to best suit the circumstances. This function supports the greater goal of implementing a pervasive computing environment. We identify three roles in context sharing: Context Providers which are sources of contextual data such as sensors; Context Consumers which are applications which use contextual data to adapt themselves; and Context Hosts which act as intermediaries facilitating the exchange of data and provide a proxy host for contextual data on behalf of Context Providers. This framework includes protocols to facilitate data exchange between each with considerations for the security and data privacy. This thesis also outlines an extensible model for defining and expressing contextual data and related meta data. The context model can be passed among the context sharing actors to communicate state and relationships between entities in the working environment.