MIT Project Oxygen, Carnegie Mellon Project Aura

MIT Project Oxygen: Overview

"In the future, computation will be human-centered. It will be freely available everywhere, like batteries and power sockets, or oxygen in the air we breathe. It will enter the human world, handling our goals and needs and helping us to do more while doing less."

Also included is Project Oxygen's take on mobile devices.

"Person-centered devices provide universal personal appliances that are inexpensive and can be carried and used anywhere. They are equipped with perceptual transducers such as a microphone, speaker, video camera, and display."


Whenever I hear the terms pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing, invisible computing I smile. Because these concepts all need mobile, heads-up displays to come to fruition.

Seeing Project Oxygen's handheld regular old PDA as the interface to their world of 'pervasive, human-centered computing' just strikes me as, well, antiquated. (Note: I'm not being dismissive here. They are building tons of new software and technologies from the bottom up which is extremely impressive -- but the user-interface for pervasive computing just can't be a Palm Pilot.)

Clearly, the vision that MIT has with Oxygen would be far better served by an augmented reality display like the Nomad.

On a similar note, check out Carnegie Mellon's Project Aura. There's a really interesting movie on this page that's well worth the download (85 MB). In one scene, the user is walking down the hallway when he is informed by 'Aura' that he has a private video message from the Provost waiting for him. He is told there is a secure conference room available for viewing.

Now, this video was made in 2000, but I can't help but think this is kind of an oversight. If you can have personalized, mobile software agents travelling with you where ever you go, then I would think you will have a mobile heads-up augmented reality display to interact with these agents.

Maybe in the sequel.