This is an initiative by MIT and TIAX LLC to experiment with new research ideas and to create a test bed to prototype and test new products. This is very similar to the Aware Home initiative that we have at Georgia Tech. I thought of posting this here since it is relevent after the Aware Home visits and showcases similar experiments that are being conducted at other universities.
One of the experiments going on in PlaceLab is about context-aware computing. an excerpt from the website goes something like this:
“We believe that environmental sensors combined with wearable sensors may offer the most potential for automatic recognition of everyday activity to enable new generations of context-aware computing devices. We are developing algorithms that automatically detect some activities from portable biometric and motion sensors. We have created software that runs on PocketPC devices and can be used to collect data using context-aware experience sampling – where sensors automatically trigger a computing devices to ask a volunteer a set of questions in a particular situation. This software is being used both for studies of people and technology in natural environments such as homes and workplaces as well as to collect data needed to develop new context detection algorithms.”
“Memento” is a prototype context-triggered reminder system, which presents users with “3 best guesses” about what they are currently doing and lets them associate an audio reminder with the most appropriate choice. The system uses Hidden Markov Models and the MITes to infer activity context.
Prof. Gregory Abowd at Georgia Tech also worked on something very similar to this.