Brussels, 13 Jun 2006
An EU-funded project has developed a system which could make life a lot easier for people who regularly have to use a range of electronic devices, some of them unfamiliar.
The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of electronic devices we work with on a regular basis, including PCs, laptops, PDAs and mobile phones. Furthermore, we use these devices in a range of locations - in the office, at home, on holiday and while travelling. This can create problems; for example, people using a different computer may find its set-up makes it hard to access their e-mail, or it may not have all the programmes that they need. Sometimes these difficulties can be overcome by changing the settings of the computer, but this takes time and requires technical know-how.
Now the Simplicity Project, which is funded under the information society technologies (IST) section of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), has developed a system which could enable users to switch effortlessly from one device to another while keeping their own preferences and set-up.
The device itself can take a number of already existing formats, such as the SIM card, USB memory stick, Secure Digital memory card and the Java card. It would contain the user's basic information and preferences, including preferred software tools, connection services, e-mail address books, Internet favourites and even wallpaper.
According to project participant Tapio Frantti of the Finnish Technical Research Centre, this means that a business traveller could leave the laptop at home and simply take the Simplicity card to meetings. He or she would be able to plug the device into a computer at the meeting venue or hotel and instantly have the setup that he or she is used to from their computer back home.
Looked at another way, two people using the same computer with their own Simplicity devices would see very different things.
The device is currently undergoing testing in Italy and Germany, and feedback from the testers has already helped the researchers to make significant improvements to the device.
The next stage of the project will look at the security of the device, which is clearly of great concern to business travellers who may have sensitive information on their Simplicity device.