It's Time to Focus on the Apps!

Jeff Dean

AJ Brush (Microsoft Research)

Mobile phones offer fascinating opportunities to sense information and interact with users. Past research has been critically important to demonstrate that it is possible to sense a variety of human activities and contexts, address energy and other pragmatic concerns, and to prototype a range of applications that are enabled by phone sensing. In this talk, drawing from my experience building mobile context sensing applications, I will argue that as a research community it's time to move the focus from general purpose enabling research to application-driven research. I have two primary reasons for this argument. First, the usage context of an application directly impacts the relative importance of a number of factors including energy efficiency and recognition accuracy required of any inference. Second, building mobile context sensing applications currently requires expertise not only in developing applications, but also in sensing and machine learning, not to mention collecting large amounts of data to train models. In our own work, we have found it quite difficult to build on past research, especially when our goal has been building novel experiences, not advancing basic research in activity recognition. In addition to showing past and ongoing research on mobile sensing applications, I will present some ideas for ways the community might work together to enable application-driven research including sharing annotated sensor data, creating a shared set of basic logging and activity recognition algorithms, or running a "grand challenge" for applications in a specific domain. My aim is to for the presentation to be very interactive and hope you will come with your own ideas and feedback.

About the speaker: A.J. Bernheim Brush is a senior researcher at MSR. Her research area is Human-Computer Interaction with a focus on Ubiquitous Computing and Computer Supported Collaboration (CSCW). A.J. received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington and graduated Summa cum Laude from Williams College. A.J. is most well known for her research on technologies for families and her expertise conducting field studies of technology. She currently focuses on using sensing, inference, and prediction to enable new experiences on mobile devices and in the home. A.J. was honored to receive a Borg Early Career Award in 2010. A.J. serves on the UbiComp-Pervasive Conference Steering Committee and the CRA-W board. She served as ACM SIGCHI VP for Membership and Communications from 2006 – 2009 and as the program co-chair for the Pervasive 2009 conference. A.J. has also served on Program Committees for many conferences including UbiComp, Pervasive, CHI, and CSCW.

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