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Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi), handheld devices are communicating more frequently with conventional computers in offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, and homes. The smart homes of the future will have ubiquitous embedded computation, and an increasing number of appliances can already communicate wirelessly. The authors launched the Pebbles project to determine whether a handheld device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or cell phone, could serve as a simpler, more effective remote control. Office-centered applications include using the PDA instead of a laser pointer, using a PDA to remotely control a PowerPoint presentation, and using a PDA with the nondominant hand to scroll windows on a PC. In the home, we are exploring how to use the PDA as a customizable, intelligent personal universal controller (PUC) for appliances, creating high-quality control panels on the handheld using a high-level specification of the appliance's capabilities. We are also interested in how PDAs can assist in providing both appliance and computer access for the disabled, including the development of new text entry methods for the motor-impaired user.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2004