Contextual Computing, Context Awareness in Software Applications, iBeacon, Bluetooth Low Energy, Occupancy Monitoring, real-time hit map associated with traffic data


Nowadays, handheld gadgets are equipped with sensors, which enable them to provide different kinds of information about the people who use them. Various algorithms and techniques use this information in order to provide users with useful and more relevant data and content. Some of these techniques fail to take into account an important element when it comes to human-computer interaction, and that is the current context of the user. Humans are very effective at using implicit situational information or the context to improve the interaction and communication. Applications can utilize contextual information to improve human-computer interaction as well.

For the purpose of this study, any information that can be used in order to describe the situation of an entity relevant to the interaction between user and application is considered context. [1] An application that takes into account this contextual information is referred to as a context-aware application. This study involves a context-aware application that monitors the occupancy of particular places on campus. In particular, we set out to automate monitoring occupancy, a task previously completed manually, in GVSU’s new Mary Idema Pew Library. We installed beacon devices transmitting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals in two test areas in the library and an additional beacon in our laboratory in Mackinac Hall. We incorporated additional software in an iOS application (Laker Mobile), which is widely used on campus. This new software runs in the background and senses collocated beacons and reports a privacy preserving universal identifier representing that particular iOS device to a network based server that was also implemented as part of this project. Our implementation uses a new technology called iBeacons, introduced by Apple in iOS 7. iBeacons utilize the BLE features that have been included in recent iOS devices, to create context-aware application experiences. Based on the collected data the server can provide real-time information about the population of the monitored areas and a heat map associated with them. Ultimately, this information can be used to help people find less crowded areas to study in the library.