EasyLiving: An Architecture for Building Intelligent Environments

Steve Shafer, Microsoft Research.

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 6, 2000

Pervasive computing is not only about "wireless access to the Internet" -- it is also about bringing computing into everyday life through its embodiment in "intelligent environments"

EasyLiving is a new research project at MSR aimed at developing a new prototype architecture and technologies for building intelligent environments. It includes the extensibility of "home automation" and the novel UI style of "intelligent rooms", but goes beyond these by incorporating explicit models of geometry, UI devices, and the location of things and people in the world.

In this way, the payoff of EasyLiving can be much greater than previous automated environment architectures. Our initial demos show the ability to track people moving around a room, play simple games and control media players, and integrate diverse devices into a seamless system. Current work is aimed at more useful applications based on the same technologies for sensing and modeling.

Even at this early stage, some profound questions about the user interface and socialization of intelligent environments are beginning to surface.

Dr. Steven A. N. Shafer is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Corporation, studying applications of computer vision for human-computer interaction. He received his BA from the University of Florida in 1976, and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon in 1983. He was then a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon until 1995, where he founded the Calibrated Imaging Laboratory. His work there focused primarily on modeling color, highlights, lens and camera calibration, and texture; he also worked on perceptual planning for robot driving in the NAVLAB robot truck project. Dr. Shafer was a founder and later Chair of the Robotics Doctoral Program at Carnegie Mellon, and participated in establishing the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

Dr. Shafer joined Microsoft in 1995, where he started the EasyLiving project to develop an architecture for building intelligent environments. He is past Chair of the IEEE PAMI TC, the primary scientific society for computer vision.

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