Framework for developing socially aware close-proximity applications.
Comm.unity is a software framework in development, which is intended to allow developers and researchers to easily create applications that are proximity aware and socially aware, and can run on a large set of existing consumer devices. It implements a wireless, device-to-device information system that bypasses the need for any centralized servers, coordination, or administration. It also supports the social learning and user profiling features described above, and designed to span an extensible set of radio interfaces (WiFi, Bluetooth, IR, etc.).
MIT Media Lab LabCast (11/2009)
Talk at the Civic Media Communications Forum (11/2009)
Talk + Live demo at the MIT Media Lab Sponsor Meeting (10/2008)
Motivation/Vision: The User Perspective
Imagine going on a trip and creating an ad-hoc group with the people you happen to be traveling with. Any picture anyone takes could be immediately distributed to all of the group’s devices.
Imagine being able to chat with strangers on the plane, or a friend sitting ten rows in front of you in a lecture hall.
Imagine taking the subway and getting the digital version of the Metro paper as you walk by the T-stop. Then, share music and files with strangers sitting next to you in the subway car.
If you are worried about getting spam and viruses from strangers, you could use information about who you know and trust to filter out unwanted peers.
Imagine having “virtual spaces” that you can easily create and share content with different groups in your life – friends, family, classmates, co-workers, or whatever you choose.
And how about getting notified when your friends and family are nearby?
Back up. Think Global:
How about a communication system for emergencies and disaster scenarios, which allows news and critical information to be distributed among people in the area without the need for existing infrastructure (which is likely to be down...)?
Or perhaps a system for professional or civic journalists operating under oppressive regimes?
Now imagine doing all of this for free, no service charges, over an open platform that would allow any developer to enhance and add new features and applications.
This is what we are aiming towards.
Technical Motivation / Design Goals
(November 26, 2009: Like the entire website, this page is still in development... Its going to be a busy winter break...)
Design goals + more technical info coming soon...
Here are the main motivators for creating comm.unity:
Communications Unity for close proximity / Face-to-Face communications
The current state of the close proximity networking space is very fragmented - Many different standards and technologies, and even devices with similar radios (e.g. Bluetooth or WiFi) are not always able to communicate directly to each other due to limitations imposed by vendor, service provider, or simply lack of appropriate software.
The vision of Comm.unity is to allow any device to talk directly to any other device that has similar radio technology. This means iPhones could easily discover and communicate with Nokia Symbian phones or Android phones via Bluetooth, no matter what mobile operator they belong to, and a WinMobile phone could connect to any Windows, Mac, or Linux computer without any special issues.
Unifying close-proximity technologies
Reusable codebase (networking, social awareness, logging, ...)
Extensible Architecture - Modular building blocks
Making development of close proximity applications as easy as developing for the web.
status update coming soon...
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