Thoughts on defining context

A key component of the Flybits platform is context, and while people usually associate context with location, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Context goes beyond location and can be characterized by other means including time, weather, personal characteristics, and more. Context can be explained as a key feature in the interaction between mobile applications and information that adds meaning to our mobile experience. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a clear understanding of and structure for context that allows individuals to easily grasp it, and effectively create personalized experiences through context-aware mobile applications.

My take on context is that it should describe a situation and the environment in which a user is present. It should be defined by a unique name with a set of relevant features, where each feature is expressed by different values. Today, context could be classified into three major categories; Physical Environment Context, Human Identity Context and Context in Time. We can further breakdown these categories which will allow for a deeper understanding of context:

  1. Physical Environment Context can include areas such as location, infrastructure and physical conditions.
    • Location can be represented as an absolute location, a relative location or multiple locations at the same time.
    • Infrastructure can be tied to any surrounding resources, or means of communication, computation, task performance etc.
    • Physical conditions can relate to things such as noise, pressure, light etc.
  2. Human Identity Context can be broken down to information on a user, information on a user’s social environment and information on a user’s tasks.
    • Information on the user can include information on their profile, habits, emotional state etc.
    • Information on a user’s social environment can include his or her social interactions, co-location with others, groups etc.
    • Information on a user’s tasks can include anything in relation to their daily activities, personal objectives or different tasks they may have.
  3. Context in Time helps us fully define context. Our experiences are generally characterized by a continuation in time. This important component of context helps us answer questions like:
    • How does the physical environment context and human identity context change over time?
    • How do they transform someone’s experience during a specific time of the day?

The above description of context is not absolute. Context is evolving and developing with the improvement of technology and context-aware cloud computing. Here at Flybits, we are continuously improving our platform by coming up with new context-aware software solutions that can improve your personal mobile experience. Connect with us to find out more on our Context-at-Your-Service platform, and see for yourself how limitless context can be.

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