Everyday Artefacts for Content Sharing

GumStix board, a small board that can make an artefact a full-blown computer!

GumStix board, a mini-computer that can make an artefact smart (or at least as smart as the developer)!

Common everyday artefacts such as tables or chairs can be modified with embedded mini-computers to make them capable of computing, to make them “intelligent.” This is something many have looked into in the past, when “situated messaging” was trendy, and many labs (and companies such as Nokia) were creating applications that allowed for leaving place-dependent messages.

To solve the problem of situated messaging, we used Gumstix, “stick-sized” Linux computer boards, to enable content transfer via artefacts. Our DroPicks system allowed for content distribution from dedicated client applications running on Nokia N770 devices. The idea was to be “drop” any kind of content “into” an artefact, which then provided ambient feedback to anyone about the availability of content. The feedback was practically a slowly blinking LED.

Content transfer was done through a Bluetooth connection bootstrapped with RFID. We placed RFID readers in the artefacts and tags in the back covers of the devices, so that users could quickly discover the correct Bluetooth device address to download content from the artefacts.

DroPicks facilitated anonymous content sharing, as anyone could drop and pick content. In addition, a content owner could specify additional attributes to the shared item, such as how many times it could be picked up or how long would the content live before self-destructing (yes, in true Mission Impossible style!). DroPicks also had a broadcasting component, whereby a central server could propagate content to all intelligent artefacts on its network.

Related publications

Hosio S, Kawsar F, Riekki J & Nakajima T. (2007)
DroPicks – A Tool for Collaborative Content Sharing Exploiting Everyday Artefacts
Proc. International Symposium on Ubiquitous Computing Systems, Tokyo, Japan, 2007

Hosio S, Kawsar F, Riekki J. & Nakajima T. (2007)
Utilizing Everyday Artefacts for Content Sharing
Proc. The Ninth International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp), Innsbruck, Austria, 2007