HiMax Ubiquitous Wireless

For a brief time, we were funded by an industry grant from the HiMax group to develop the next generation of social applications enabled by the advent of ubiquitous high-speed wireless Internet access. This “Ubiquitous Wireless” project was led by Sam Joseph. Unfortunately, funding was terminated due to the October 2008 worldwide financial crisis, but for a brief time this was the largest project in the history of LILT. A description of the project follows. (This description was provided by Sam Joseph, and has been edited only to reflect the past tense of the project.)

The Future of Ubiquitous Wireless

A world is soon arriving where ubiquitous and incredibly high speed wireless access will be commonplace. As with other leaps forward the network performance of many existing applications will benefit (e.g. applications accessed on cellphones via wireless Internet), but the question arises what will be the new applications that become possible through this ubiquitous wireless access? Imagine for a moment that from any location: office building, mountain top, beach park, you could access every movie ever made in a matter of seconds. While there might be immediate implications for the movie industry, the Ubiquitous Wireless research project at the University of Hawaii envisioned many new sorts of applications that will be made possible by this technological shift. These applications included:

  • Annotated Earth
  • Augmented Driving
  • Collaborative Telepresence
  • Social Sense

While many new applications will become possible, it may be that users are not ready for some of them. More often then not, it is the need for rather than novelty of a technology that is responsible for its mass adoption; novelty wears off, needs root in. Often the potential of application is not apparent until users have become familiar with the supporting technology, e.g. a sufficient number of users had to become familiar with basic Internet services before Wikipedia could become successful. As a consequence the UH Ubiquitous Wireless research team looked carefully at the how applications that take advantage of ubiquitous wireless environments can evolve from those that are quite similar to what is currently available, to others that are truly revolutionary. Suitable extensions to existing applications will pave the way to the acceptance of the concepts and possibilities of augmented reality, preparing users to accept and even desire subsequent paradigm breaking developments.

Evolutionary Path

The goal of this research project was to provide compelling ubiquitous wireless applications. To this end the project was organized into distinct phases. In the first 12 months we focused on developing simple prototypes, while simultaneously producing revolutionary visions of new applications that can be developed over a five year period. The development of functioning prototypes in 12 months restricted the instantiated applications to the lower end of AR systems, specifically those which do not include full registration; that is true embedding of virtual objects within the users view of the physical world. Initially virtual entities were related but appear disconnected from the physical reality.

Some of the initial prototypes were planned to make use of existing hardware for ease of deployment. In the longer five year term we planned to build our own novel devices and hardware, but in the short term the ability of applications to leverage existing hardware already in public use makes the process of adoption much simpler. For example, the first FAX machine was effectively useless. It was only as the number of FAX machines increased that the value of having a FAX machine rose sufficiently to make it worthwhile to acquire one (the [network effect](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect)). Similarly with our AR social networking application “Magic Ring”. If there is only one person with a Magic Ring AR system then there is not much social networking possible. If the system can deploy both on mobile phones and AR headsets then there is a social base to leverage, and the AR headset is value added to something that already has value.

Architectural Principles

Our research work incorporated two architectural principles. First, our applications were to be explicitly designed whenever possible so that they can run on multiple platforms, particularly ones that many people already own such as smartphones and laptops, in addition to wearable systems with heads up displays (HUD). This will ease both the development bootstrapping efforts, and barriers to building a user base.

Second, our applications were to be designed to be both modeless and modular. Instead of having a special purpose prototype system for one application (such as a museum guide), we planned to build a system where applications coexist and are activated based on context. For example, when entering a museum our planned system would alert the user that they are entering an area where the museum guide application can be used. Applications and content were to be streamed on demand to the AR system much like Java applets and Flash animations are on the web.

Publications Resulting

Brewer R.S., Joseph S.R.H., Yang G., Scott N. & Suthers D. (2008).
SocialSense: A System For Social Environment Awareness. Presented at Devices that Alter Perception Workshop at the 10th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, September 21st, 2008 in Seoul, Korea.

Chu, K. & Joseph S.R.H. (2008).
Second Life Prototyping of Augmented Automobile Navigation Assistance. In Proceedings of the 11th International IEEE Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (Beijing, China, October 12-15, 2008). ITSC 2008.

Chu, K. & Joseph S.R.H. (2008).
Using Second Life to demonstrate a concept automobile heads up display (A-HUD). In Proceedings of the 10th international Conference on Human Computer interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2-5, 2008). MobileHCI ’08., (pp. 497-498). ACM, New York, NY.

Sherstyuk, A., Chu, K., & Joseph, S.R.H. (2008).
Virtual Roommates for Ambient Telepresence Applications. 18th International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence, Yokohama, Japan, pp. 234-237, December 1-3, 2008.

Sherstyuk, A., Chu, K., & Joseph, S.R.H. (2008).
Virtual Mirror for Augmented Presence Applications. International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology. ACE 2008, pp. 410, Yokohama, Japan, December 3-5, 2008.