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Every system can become smarter, efficient, and more valuable by factoring in presence information. Society's embrace of instant messaging has shown that a great deal of importance is placed on presence-enabled contact lists and instant connectivity. Even traditional resource management systems such as automated routing use availability and presence to select and connect people to the best available agent in a call center. Multimedia conferencing takes presence information a step further and asks the question of how to connect people based on their disparate communication capabilities. But all these uses of presence information, as exciting as they are now, and as much potential to develop further as they all have, are but a tip of the iceberg of the communication revolution ahead. In the future, the wealth of presence information - and the kinds of information we are able to obtain - changes everything. We can use new technologies - including sensors, wireless, image analysis, motion detection, and embedded systems - to capture, monitor, and track presence, action, and even intention. In this new era of pervasive presence information, why would my phone simply ring when my entire office could be used to alert me that someone wants to contact me? In this article, we learn of the exciting work done by the group FoAM, in which entire environments are transformed into responsive spaces where people are inextricably part of influencing their environment by their presence, actions, and even intentions. FoAM offers a small window into the future of presence technology - where a person's intentions, as well as their actions, can effect change.
Date of Publication: Jan.-March 2005