I’m at the Gartner Symposium again this year doing some work on the SOCITM Technology Challenge (I did the same last year). This is a very quick post while I’m waiting for my next session to start, more detail might or might not emerge later depending on how my workload progresses!

A number of presentations here so far have touched on the subject of “context-aware computing” and what it might mean for applications in the future.

There are a number of smartphone applications, such as Foursquare or Gowalla, that already make use of location based information: these applications allow you to “check in” to a location and see, amongst other things, photos of where you are taken by other users, or to know which of your circle of friends and contacts are there or have visited recently.

An intriguing set of future developments might see this linked to workflow. An application that allows you to check in somewhere and automatically does some or all of the following would be extremely useful:

  • see what other people are there that you know
  • synchronise with your “to-do” list and prompt you to carry out tasks linked that physical location (like posting a letter at the post office, for example)
  • also from your “to-do” list, see if anyone else is there that you might need to see about something and prompt you to make contact, perhps even initiating that contact automatically
  • at an enterprise level, allow tasks to be “pushed” out to you dependent on your location, capabilities (eg what sort of connectivity exists, what facilities are available, what others are there etc) in priority order
  • record the steps involved in activites that take place in that location for future automation capability
  • observe and report other problems, ie interface with other workflow systems.

these capabilities are by no means out of reach, they just have not yet (to my knowledge) been put together in one application. We seem to be pointing towards a sort of context-aware “digital assistant” that helps you carry out tasks efficiently and generally get the most out of your time. (It might also be useful to those with some kinds of mental impairment, such as memory loss).

(Please note: no local authority budgets were harmed in the making of this blog post. My attendance is not being paid for by my employer and the views expressed are my own)

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