The number of computing devices is growing fast; so is their complexity. This poses a challenge to IT technicians for being able to remotely manage the growing number of devices and to IT companies due to rapidly growing costs of maintenance. For a technology to be widely adopted, it also needs to be auto-sustainable and self-managed. Fraunhofer AICOS focuses on the scientific area of Autonomic Computing for helping in the advent of smarter devices that need fewer configurations and maintenance and that can easily be used by its preferred target groups: older persons and persons who live in rural or less developed areas. Within this particular scientific area, Fraunhofer AICOS focuses its research in the following topics:
Remote Management and Configuration
The ability to adapt to unforeseen and time-changing conditions is a fundamental enabler of autonomic computing. This means that devices must be easily and remotely configured and maintained over time and operate in different environments without human intervention. For instance, Fraunhofer AICOS’ projects include a remote health monitoring solution that uses network devices like a router, a set-top box or even a mobile phone. These devices can be automatically configured to provide information about the user's vital signs, fire up alarms or retrieve vital sign data from external sensors and send it to remote Electronic Health Records. Everything is done without any direct human intervention and using well-established remote management standards (e.g. Broadband Forum's CWMP).
Flexible Software Architectures and Inter-operable Standards
The increase of the amount of computer systems everywhere has led to the emergence of flexible software architectures (e.g. OSGi) and inter-operable communication standards (e.g. DLNA and UPnP). Applications or components can be remotely installed, started, stopped, updated and uninstalled without even requiring a reboot. Application life cycle management (start, stop, install, etc.) is done via programming interfaces that allow for remote downloading of management policies. The service registry allows bundles to detect the addition/removal of services and adapt accordingly. When connected to a network, these devices automatically establish working configurations with others. These technologies help promoting seamless operation and reducing the barrier to the usage of technology.
Fraunhofer AICOS focuses on enabling technologies, which allow the end user to leverage with others with different capabilities. The requirements are always decided having in mind the oldest and/or the disabled population, or people with chronic conditions. The concept of adaptive systems should also be applied in these enabling technologies to allow them to be easily and widely adopted by people that are not technologically savvy. The work topics include the development and interaction with systems and mechanisms to be used in smart homes, remote control of commonly used devices and systems to monitor and control energy consumption.