Context awareness refers to the behavior of application programs that use information about their context, i.e. their environment, to adjust their behavior accordingly.
The basis on which these systems work is information provided by a wide variety of sources or sensors. This information is used to draw conclusions about the context. The discovered context is used by the application to customize its behavior, especially the behavior of the user interface. For example, context is defined as “…any information that can be used to characterize the situation of an entity.” The use of contextual information is most often associated with the time and place aspect of people. However, any other aspects can be included in a context model if appropriate sources or sensors exist. These can be, for example, archive data or vital signs of people, the temperature in an environment or the relationships between people.
The goal of developing context-sensitive applications is to achieve a higher utility value than with classic applications.
Subforms and Types
Subforms of context sensitivity are:
- Change awareness, the awareness of changes in the database; see e.g. Computer Supported Cooperative Work
- Collaboration awareness, the awareness of the purpose “application for group work”; see e.g. Computer
- Supported Cooperative Work
- Gaze awareness, the awareness of the user’s line of sight; see e.g. Computer Supported Cooperative Work
- Location awareness, the awareness of the location; see e.g. location-based services
- Security awareness, the awareness or sensitivity of IT users for information security issues
For context modeling in the development of web-based systems, a division into the context categories user & role, task, place, time and device was proposed as appropriate.
A contextual system can use contextual information in a variety of ways. Contextual information can be used as a trigger for functions of the system, such as triggering an alarm when acceptable vital signs are exceeded. Furthermore, contextual information can be used to enrich documents or other resources with background information. For example, images can be automatically stamped with a time and place stamp. Furthermore, context information can be used to parameterize functions. For example, the context model can be used to identify all persons who are in the same room. This information can be used to implement a room-dependent mailing list. Ultimately, contextual information can be visualized by the system and made available to the user for information.
Currently available systems focus on the location aspect and realize location-based services. On the basis of location sensors, e.g. GPS or cell location of mobile devices, services or information are provided that are useful in the vicinity of the user. However, location-based services (LBS) are only a special case. More complex context-dependent systems currently exist only in the research laboratories of the relevant universities and institutes.
Context sensitivity is used in games wherever there are few buttons available, such as computer mice, gamepads and joysticks. For example, some key functions are only activated when the action is needed to suit the situation. For example, the action of addressing non-player characters by the character does not appear until they are nearby. The actions to be performed are usually displayed on the screen.