Ambient  Computational Environments
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Gary Minden and Joe Evans, KU professors of electrical engineering and computer science, are the principal investigators for the project, called Architecture and Prototype of an Ambient Computational Environment. Funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, this 2 1/2-year effort complements the technology center's work in the field of ambient computational environments, also known as ACEs.

ACE uses the idea that computation resources - in the broadest sense - are readily available in our offices, conference rooms, auditoriums and even hallways. Any authorized person can access those computer resources in a variety of ways.

Imagine that the computer you've been working at for 497 days is going to be swapped out for a newer model. The very thought, would panic most people. Will all the files transfer? Will the software work right? Will the changeover cost valuable time?

If your computer is linked to an ACE network, a technician arrives with your new equipment and unplugs your display, keyboard and computer. He ignores the fact that your desk computer is running, because that computer simply is a port to the larger network. When the installer leaves and you identify yourself to your new machine, you continue on with your work. Tomorrow your computer will show 498 working days. The ACE network, not a piece of hardware, becomes the computational heart of an office.

In an ambient computational environment, access to equipment such as computers, cameras, video players, projectors or cell phones is embedded into a room through a network that links them to one another and to other rooms or buildings on the network. These tools can then be controlled or accessed from anywhere along the network. So, instead of carrying a laptop, cell phone and pager to a meeting, a person can access files and phone messages from equipment on the network.

As part of their project, Minden and Evans will also study the effect ACEs will have on high-performance networking systems. ACEs will create a different type of traffic along the networks. It will also studies what must be done to secure the transmission of ACE content over widely distributed next generation Internets.

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