eHome: Project Descripton

Project Description

eHome systems are built on top of integrable net-aware devices in households. This way, eHome services can offer complex functionalities across multiple devices. Typical areas of application are multimedia and entertainment, medical surveillance and support of elderly people, reducing energy consumption, and security services. Automated smart home environments will have important influence on our everyday life in the future. Due to recent developments in hardware technology and the trend towards pervasive and ubiquitous computing, eHome systems are gaining more importance. Research in this area is also attractive with respect to its increasing market potential. However, there are a number of problems to be solved before eHome systems are ready for the market, e.g. the dynamic aspects, the respective problems concerning configuration and service composition, the interaction of arbitrary devices, and security and privacy aspects, just to name a few.

Up to now, we analyzed the life-cycle of eHome services beginning from development and specification via configuration and deployment at the eHome until retirement. In the development phase, eHome services can be implemented in the Java programming language or by specifying workflows. The latter enables a flexible declarative specification of the service functionality. In the domain of low-cost eHome systems, it is essential to automate the configuration process. For this purpose we developed the eHome Tool Suite, which supports the specification of eHome services and environments, the automatic configuration of selected services, and the deployment of the configured services to a residential gateway. The mobility of users and devices require a dynamic and adaptive configuration of the eHome system. The system has to adapt to the changing environment with as few user interactions as possible, nevertheless the user has to be in control at all times. We extended an existing process of specification, configuration, and deployment to support dynamic adaptation of the system configuration and the respective deployment changes. To evaluate and demonstrate our tools, we developed an eHome software simulator, which allows simulating home environments with inhabitants and installed devices.


Currently, we work on supporting mobile users by personalizing multiple eHomes when moving from one eHome to another one. Our approach is based on users carrying mobile devices which store their profiles allowing them to release the personal data to eHomes on demand. Thus, eHome services can adapt their functionality to these preferences. As a result, problems regarding security and privacy will arise. On the one hand, the privacy of the users has to be protected while personalizing the eHomes. For doing this, we implemented an anonymous, negotiation-based authentication mechanism combined with identity management giving users control about what personal data to release to different eHomes. On the other hand, the eHomes have to be protected against malicious users and services. This is done by role-based access control techniques combined with anonymous credentials.

Furthermore, we are working on mechanisms for semantic annotations of eHome services to address incompatibility problems that arise when composing heterogeneous services. By supporting ontology-based annotations, suitable adaptor components can be generated automatically which are used to enable service composition. To support an efficient usage of restricted device resources, we are developing a mechanism for dynamic management of service bindings. This way, we can ensure that services can share resources they only need for specific time intervals. In addition to that, we are extending our system with context management facilities for automatic adaptation of the composition of personal services.

This project is partially funded by the Graduate School "Software for Mobile Communication Systems". The Graduate School initiative is funded by the German Research Association (DFG). For further information please refer to http://www-i4.informatik.rwth-aachen.de/Kolleg/.

Created by: system last modification: Thursday 11 of September, 2008 [15:21:04 UTC] by retkowitz