Using a Hand-Held as a Personal Universal Controller
The Pebbles project is investigating how a hand-held computer can be used as
a "Personal Universal Controller".
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) like the PocketPC and Palm Pilot are becoming
increasingly ubiquitous, and with wireless technologies such as BlueTooth and
IEEE 802.11, they will be in close interactive communication with other devices.
Furthermore, cell-phones and pagers, which primarily used for communication,
are increasingly becoming programmable. We are investigating how these kinds
of hand-held devices devices can be used to control all kinds of home, office
and factory equipment. The concept is that when users point their own hand-held
at a light switch, at a photocopier in an office, at a machine tool in a factory,
at a VCR at home, at a piece of test equipment in the field, or at almost any
other kind of device, the device will send to the hand-held a description of
its control parameters. The hand-held uses this information to create an appropriate
control panel, taking into account the properties of the controls that are needed,
the properties of the hand-held (the display type and input techniques available),
and the properties of the user (what language is preferred, whether left or
right handed, how big the buttons should be based on whether the user prefers
using a finger or a stylus). The user can then control the device using the
hand-held. The device will not need to dedicate much processing power, hardware,
or cost to the user interface, since it will only need to contain a description
of its capabilities and storage for the current settings, along with hardware
for wireless communication. The hand-held programs will use intelligent "model-based"
techniques to create useful and appropriate interfaces that are customized for
each user. Furthermore, though a collaboration with the Universal
Speech Interfaces project at CMU, we are demonstrating that the same specification
can be used to generate a speech interface, and then the appliance can be controlled
using speech and/or a graphical user interface.
In our preliminary study, using the Palm and PocketPC interfaces shown below
were twice as fast and resulted in one-fifth the errors compared
to the manufacturer's interface. See the publications
in this section.
Note that you cannot use any of the Pebbles software to control real applications
(other than a PC) at this time.
Connecting PUC to Appliances
We are investigating various ways to connect our PUC to appliances, including
UPnP: Universal Plug and Play
Home Audio Video Interoperability
The PUC system cannot be used to control real appliances today. Some
systems for using handhelds as remote controls today include:
- Philips Pronto
- OmniRemote Pro by Pacific Neo-Tek, Inc. for Palm
- NoviiRemote by NoviiMedia
for Palm and PocketPC
- VITO Remote by VITO Technology for PocketPC
- UniversalRemoteCE by Pyramid Peak
Design for PocketPC