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The Nomatic prototype system and communications ecosystem automatically infers users' place, activity, and availability from sensors on their handheld devices or laptop computers and then reports this information to their instant-messaging contacts.In our system, Nomatic (nomad and automatic), we explore a way to amplify and leverage this passive style of content creation by focusing on status messages. These short bits of text are usually created by users in the context of small communities of people who monitor each other for playor work-related distributed coordination. Status messages appear in instant-messaging (IM) clients as short customizable phrases such as "at lunch" or "out of the office." Commercial services also provide facilities for communicating status without IM (for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Jaiku). By simply attaching sensor data to the status information that users enter in IM, we can create a rich ecosystem of context-aware applications that benefit users. At the most basic level, keeping status content up to date helps mitigate the increasing problem of interruptions in mobile communications, but there are many other potential uses of such data. To be effective, we must keep this ecosystem in balance by supporting the user's ability to provide status information, supporting other users' ability to understand that data, and effectively motivating both types of users to keep their status information accurate.
Date of Publication: Oct.-Dec. 2009