Pervasive User Interface with Smart Devices, Centralized Computing and Communication
Original Publication Date: 2001-Sep-10
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Enclosed is a User Interface (UI) system for various types of pervasive computing environments. The following describes specific usability problems facing the mobile and pervasive computing environments, the proposed solutions for solving such problems, and related scenarios of application. One major problem with so called "fat-client" (e.g., PC) computing is the difficulty of network communication in a mobile environment. Another problem is the lack of efficiency due to the repetition of the client environment across multiple client machines (i.e., most PCs have Windows with standard Windows applications). Think about this scenario: when a business man goes to an airport, he carries his laptop with him. While waiting for his flight, he wants to access his email and surf the Web. But he can't find a phone jack for modem dialing. He then buys a wireless service to access his Internet service provider (ISP). In an airport, hundreds or even thousands of people may be using exactly the same client environment (e.g., Windows with a Web browser) to connect to their ISPs through separate communication channels. We may run out of the air bandwidth with the increasing number of wireless communication channels In addition, it is a waste of resource repeating the same client environment across multiple client devices! Pervasive computing can solve the fat-client problem through thin-clients, mobility, and fast network communications. However, the user interface in most of the pervasive computing devices is limited by the small size and simplified functionality. It is difficult to type on a palm pilot. And the increasing number of wireless devices still threatens the overloading of air bandwidth. The following describes a vision of UI using virtual typing to interact with an input-receiver and feedback-generator device shared by multiple users, which would be especially useful in public places. This shared interface device then transfers input from multiple users to a backend central computing device, such as a mainframe computer. This central computing device then dispatches user input and carries out network communications to various servers. This method can help users decrease the burden of carrying fat-client devices. In addition, this method can help decrease the load of air bandwidth in wireless wide area network (WAN). In certain situations, the methods are natural to human operation and easy to learn.