Intel developing “contextual awareness” technology

Have you ever wondered whether or not you should send that text, or to make that call? Have you wondered whether you should text or call? Will someone reply to it right away, or will it just go straight to their inbox or voicemail? Intel claims that it is developing “contextual awareness” technology, which will advise you of the best method to use when contacting others.

“I want to call my wife or text my wife during the workday, but I don’t know what she’s doing. She’s out and about, she’s busy, she’s doing something–I never know whether I should call her or text her. With this technology, I will now have a picture of what she’s doing, and I can make that decision,” said Intel engineer Philip Muse.

The technology takes advantage of what Muse called hard sensors and soft sensors–hard sensors being such built-in capabilities as your mobile device’s accelerometer or GPS, and soft sensors being based on event in your calendar, your interaction with applications, or other software-based information. These sensors share your user state among all your devices–smartphone, PC, whatever–to provide the contextual awareness system with a idea of what you’re up to at any given moment. Knowing that, it can advise your friends, family and colleagues the best way to contact you or interact with you.

A phone equipped with contextual awareness technology, for example, will display an icon showing whether the person with whom you want to get in touch is at their desk, walking around, or playing music–it can even listen in to that person’s surroundings, should that permission be given. “I know now what’s going on at the other end of the phone,” Muse said, “before I even place the call or send a text.”

Say you want to contact someone who’s driving in their car. But you’re in a meeting, so you can’t call them on the phone. You can text them, and it will go directly to speech, and the recipient can speak their response, but it will be translated back into text, so you don’t have to excuse yourself from the room, and they won’t have to risk being fined for using their phone while driving.

For those who think that contextual awareness will invade way too much into their lives, the preferences can be set by each user, and you can completely disable this option. However, it might send a whole different message to those who may adapt to this technology and are constantly plugged into the grid.