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  1. #1
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    Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Pardon the roughness of this though, but its coming out as I just thought about it. Let's discuss, as I think it has considerable merit.

    A lot of the talk in the past months with those things mobile has been in the area of context. Context of using the device, context of an application to know a situation. Context of web browsers to know how you are browing a website and serve the information properly.

    The Mobile Web Server is an interesting appliation. At first glance, it would seem to be an attempt a minuritization of the concept of having "land" on the web. Add your own URL and you effectivly have made your mobile a place to go online and offline.

    And so I was thinking, what if the MWS further blurred those lines. What if I opened my device, and instead of looking at the regular Active Standby screen, I am looking at an (on-device editable) portal page that has widgets for my calendar, latest contacts, SMS/MMS/email, and a few other widgets.

    But then using the web cam feature, the mobile notices that I am moving and MWS activates the GPS and mapping applicaiton. Using 3G it would then show me an overview of where I am and local content saved on my device that corresponds to this. Using the cell ID and presense it would tell me how many friends are near me, and show them on that same mapping applicaiton which is hosted on my server.

    But on the other side of that, people are viewing my website, and see a widget on the page of a map and just see that I am in motion.

    And on another side those that have subscribed to my presense updates would see a node/button in their address book corresponding to my contact card saying that I am busy/occupied/driving.

    In other words, developing the MWS as a facilitator to context driven interactions with our mobile. Leveraging that which is already possible online - presence, text, mapping, etc. - and then overlaying the hardware that is inside of our devices to do mroe than just interact with people, but allow them to interact with us.

    If you think about it, the MWS is a good idea for this. Wonder if this is on the map, do you?

  2. #2
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by ARJWright View Post
    Pardon the roughness of this though, but its coming out as I just thought about it. Let's discuss, as I think it has considerable merit.

    A lot of the talk in the past months with those things mobile has been in the area of context. Context of using the device, context of an application to know a situation. Context of web browsers to know how you are browing a website and serve the information properly.

    The Mobile Web Server is an interesting appliation. At first glance, it would seem to be an attempt a minuritization of the concept of having "land" on the web. Add your own URL and you effectivly have made your mobile a place to go online and offline.

    And so I was thinking, what if the MWS further blurred those lines. What if I opened my device, and instead of looking at the regular Active Standby screen, I am looking at an (on-device editable) portal page that has widgets for my calendar, latest contacts, SMS/MMS/email, and a few other widgets.

    But then using the web cam feature, the mobile notices that I am moving and MWS activates the GPS and mapping applicaiton. Using 3G it would then show me an overview of where I am and local content saved on my device that corresponds to this. Using the cell ID and presense it would tell me how many friends are near me, and show them on that same mapping applicaiton which is hosted on my server.

    But on the other side of that, people are viewing my website, and see a widget on the page of a map and just see that I am in motion.

    And on another side those that have subscribed to my presense updates would see a node/button in their address book corresponding to my contact card saying that I am busy/occupied/driving.

    In other words, developing the MWS as a facilitator to context driven interactions with our mobile. Leveraging that which is already possible online - presence, text, mapping, etc. - and then overlaying the hardware that is inside of our devices to do mroe than just interact with people, but allow them to interact with us.

    If you think about it, the MWS is a good idea for this. Wonder if this is on the map, do you?
    You hit the nail on the head.

    It's the potential for contextualness that differentiates a web-server on a mobile personal device from "traditional" servers. It is possible, of course, to invent use-cases that justify having a "regular" web-site on your phone, but the really compelling cases are likely to be the ones that utilize the context in a way that is impossible or exceedingly hard to do in the case of regular web-sites.

    And a web-server on a mobile personal device obviously does not have to appear as a regular web-site at all. Being able to reach a phone using HTTP from the Internet can simply be used for enabling the kind of functionality you outline in the address-book example above.

    Johan

  3. #3
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Then there is no incentive in writing native apps? If one writes "widgets" that are able to use the datastore of the local server in order to interact with their device.

    Thinking further, this would make a browser-based architechure for mobile devices kinda simple to extend.

    The issue would be how do apps define context. These connected apps would need to talk to hardware and have some building block of AI that would be able to recognize and learn from various situations, and then the app would adapt to it.

    Just throwing this out there (because my mind just tends to do that): the next step in the MWS isn't hosting a website, but replacing a vital application with an RIA-type one isn't it

  4. #4
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Well, there are practical issues with this approach. A web-server stack - especially if it's the full PAMP - requires a hefty amount of memory. So, at least for some time it's only possible on high-end phones. However, you only have to compare the phones from a few years back with the phones of today and use that for extrapolating where the phones will be a few years from now to realize that the issue is likely to become a non-issue.

    Personally I'm very excited about the idea of exposing all functionality of the phone via a REST API and then only use that for interacting with the phone. That way you could, for instance, easily have the calendar widget on your phone display, not only your appointments, but your family members' as well. And there would be no restriction on where your phone UI could reside; when at work you use your phone from your PC.

    Utilizing the context does not necessarily need any advanced AI. Nokia Step Counter uses the built-in accelerometer for counting the steps you take. From there, the step to utilize it for augmenting your presence information is not big.

    In Raccoon - the fully open sourced mobile web server - there's a concept demo we called mobsite hopping. Basically you can, having reached one mobsite, reach other mobsites that happens to be in the physical proximity of the first. Traditionally, when a website is linked from another, a person has somehow made the decision that those sites are somehow related. Now that websites are mobile, they can become related merely by being in the same place.

    For instance, suppose you know a friend of yours is at an interesting venue and you therefore browse to his mobsite in order to find out whether he has taken some interesting pictures. Now, all other mobsites at the same place are also likely to be interesting to you because they might also contain pictures of the event. And you can reach them, because via the mobsite hopping feature they are implicitly linked from your friend's mobsite. And that goes on, of course, so you can essentially move around at the venue, hopping from one mobsite to the next.

    Johan

  5. #5
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    In Raccoon - the fully open sourced mobile web server - there's a concept demo we called mobsite hopping. Basically you can, having reached one mobsite, reach other mobsites that happens to be in the physical proximity of the first. Traditionally, when a website is linked from another, a person has somehow made the decision that those sites are somehow related. Now that websites are mobile, they can become related merely by being in the same place.

    For instance, suppose you know a friend of yours is at an interesting venue and you therefore browse to his mobsite in order to find out whether he has taken some interesting pictures. Now, all other mobsites at the same place are also likely to be interesting to you because they might also contain pictures of the event. And you can reach them, because via the mobsite hopping feature they are implicitly linked from your friend's mobsite. And that goes on, of course, so you can essentially move around at the venue, hopping from one mobsite to the next.
    Ooooh, I wanna do that *now*; but I'd need to outfit everyone around me with a mobile that has a mobsite on there so that this can work.

    You have my mind working overtime now. I see it. Its very possible, and we should be doing it. But to wait until everyone has a powerful mobile in hand seems like 5-7 years out (minimum). The MWS runs on my 2+yr old N75. Can we say the same would happen to a 2yr mobile in 3 years that it could do this too? I would hope so, but eh, people...

    EDIT: this sounds like the presense feature in Jaiku where it tells you others are in the device's neighborhood by using bluetooth.

  6. #6
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Can MWS do this in part now? For example, can MWS use the internal BT, cell ID, and/or GPS to show what is in the device's context physically?

    Or would this be better served with a widget?

  7. #7
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by ARJWright View Post
    Can MWS do this in part now? For example, can MWS use the internal BT, cell ID, and/or GPS to show what is in the device's context physically?
    Well, a script running under MWS can access BT, the cell ID (not at the moment, but in principle) and GPS, but that alone is not sufficient for showing who or what is in the device's context.

    In Raccoon this was done so that the mobsite made a BT device discovery which produced a list of BDAs (BT devices address) that were put into a HTML page as comments. On the page's way through the (Raccoon) gateway to the client, the gateway replaced recongnized BDAs with their corresponding URL. The gateway knew which BDA corresponded to what URL, because when the mobsite owner on his phone enabled mobsite hopping the device simply told the gateway what its BDA is. Anyway, the end result is that to the client it seems that mobsites can tell what other mobsites are in their proximity.

    Now, to do it exactly like this in the MWS context would require modifications in the MWS gateway and thus would have to be put on the roadmap etc. But it does not have to be done like this. You can easily achieve the same thing by doing things a little differently.

    For instance, the mobsite, when queried about mobsites in its proximity, could, after having gotten the BDA list, contact some other "mapping" server and have it translate the BDAs into corresponding URLs. People/devices that want to be part of this would then have to tell that server what their BDA is.

    Or, the mobsite would only collect the BDAs and return them in such a way that it is the client that (transparently to the user) does the resolving. Much like maps displayed by a site typically do not come directly from the site, but are fetched from Google by the client. Again, people/devices would have to tell that server what their BDA is.

    The benefit of the Raccoon approach is that there is only the request from the client to the mobsite, and the corresponding response. In the other alternatives more requests are needed but in the latter one that's likely to be irrelevant. The weakness of the Raccoon approach is that it only works if the HTML page goes through the gateway, but not if, for instance, you access the mobsite directly over WLAN. Both alternative approaches work in all contexts, also when it's the device itself that wants to figure out who are in its proximity.

    Johan
    Last edited by jhnwkmn; 2008-06-06 at 07:13.

  8. #8
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Posting this from my N800:

    From what you seem to be saying, or at least as my fingers are alowing me to think aloud, MWS is basically designed to enable context-based functionality to be pulled out of mobile use. I likes, and am glad that this is happening at least in one place.

    Should we expect to see some consolidation in the apps by 2.0 then? For example there no longer being a need for a presence app as it would be a widget one could set up in their profile to be seen and interacted with from any other app; or the web cam app turning the gps into a literal eye-map of what is nearby?

  9. #9
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by ARJWright View Post
    ...MWS is basically designed to enable context-based functionality to be pulled out of mobile use.
    It's not so much about what it has been designed to enable, but what simply is inherently possible when you have a globally accessible web server on a personal mobile device.

    Should we expect to see some consolidation in the apps by 2.0 then?
    I can't comment on what might and what might not be in a forthcoming release of MWS. The possibility for "widgetization" certainly is there already.

    Br,
    Johan

  10. #10
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by jhnwkmn View Post
    I can't comment on what might and what might not be in a forthcoming release of MWS. The possibility for "widgetization" certainly is there already.
    And somehow, I knew that this would be your answer

  11. #11
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    New(ish) thought to add to this then...

    MWS hooks into some apps for some functionality, can it also be used as a hook to give applications the functionality that other programs offer?

    For example, the calendar and GPS/mapping apps don't talk to each other. But, the MWS talks to both. Can it be used to facilitate those connections? Thereby making context a usable feature without having to (entirely) recode an applicaion?

  12. #12
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by ARJWright View Post
    For example, the calendar and GPS/mapping apps don't talk to each other. But, the MWS talks to both. Can it be used to facilitate those connections? Thereby making context a usable feature without having to (entirely) recode an applicaion?
    Sure, but you need to be a little bit more concrete than that

    What do you have in mind?

    Johan

  13. #13
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by jhnwkmn View Post
    Sure, but you need to be a little bit more concrete than that

    What do you have in mind?

    Johan
    This is another rough idea, but I think it would work.

    Presence + Calendar + GPS/cell ID + Messaging

    Person puts a location into a calendar item; item is linked to internal maps application and MWS presence funtion. When a person is involved in an activity, or near the area that the soon to come activity is to begin, they show up on other maps (Ovi, Nokia Maps, MWS shared mobisite contacts) as being in the area along with a snippet of the event in the area that is going on.

    Adding the messaging component, a person has an event with a location to it, tied to MWS, but then is able to send SMS/MMS to all people with an option to come join that person, and can see via a link in that SMS/MMS where the person is (map is a mesh between Nokia Maps and the user's MWS site, powered by the Presence page).

    I would think that both of these would turn IP addresses into something a bit more dynamic than just a name for a computer system into litereally a contact point that moves with the context.

  14. #14
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    What's stopping the MWS from being used like a social networking app in the Twitter/Jaiku guise?

    Meaning, what stops it from being the case where I go to someone's MWS site, and then get an option whether to subscribe to status and blog updates (or anything else they care to share) and then have some kind of indicator show up in the Contacts application with a presence indicator (and maybe the latest status update).


    And yes, the Jaiku downtime has had me thinking a bit how MWS is already like that identi.ca service already but the mobile component is already built in for additional fun

  15. #15
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    Re: Using MWS and Context-Situation for Mobile Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by ARJWright View Post
    What's stopping the MWS from being used like a social networking app in the Twitter/Jaiku guise?
    Nothing - it's just a small matter of programming

    But seriously, in principle anything that exists in the regular web could exist in the MWS context as well. Obviously there are limitations - resource, battery, connectivity - that restrict what is meaningful in practice, but in my mind that's outweighed by the inherent contextuality of a mobile personal device. Furthermore, some of those limitations might disappear if social networking apps were built in a completely distributed fashion and not in the typical client-server way.

    Meaning, what stops it from being the case where I go to someone's MWS site, and then get an option whether to subscribe to status and blog updates (or anything else they care to share) and then have some kind of indicator show up in the Contacts application with a presence indicator (and maybe the latest status update).
    At least from a technical perspective, nothing.

    Johan

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