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By extending the reach of traditional computing systems to encompass the devices and physical space surrounding the machines, entities, both physical and virtual, may be allowed to seamlessly interact. Physical spaces become interactive systems, or in other terms, Active Spaces. Such environments are analogous to traditional computing systems; just as a computer is viewed as one object, composed of input/output devices, resources and peripherals, so is an Active Space. However, the heterogeneity, mobility and sheer number of devices makes the system vastly more complex. Applications may have the choice of a number of input devices such as location sensing system, mouse, pen, or finger and output devices, such as an everywhere display, monitor, PDA screen, wall-mounted display, speakers, or phone.

See our latest demo video here.

Gaia brings the functionality of an operating system to physical spaces. Common operating system functions are supported, such as events, signals, file system, security, processes, process groups, etc. Gaia extends typical operating system concepts to include context, location awareness, mobile computing devices and actuators like door locks and light switches. We are investigating how to build applications in a generic way that make no assumptions about the current hardware setup of a space - applications can be built and then deployed in spaces with different configurations, using the available resources.

Gaia Architecture:

Click on any part of the diagram below to find more information regarding the Gaia kernel services, application framework, QoS services, and applications.

Gaia is deployed in a prototype room containing state-of-the-art equipment, including 5.1 programmable surround sound audio system, five plasma panels, HDTV, webcams, Tablet PCs, X10 devices, IR beacons, bluetooth, wireless ethernet, fingerprint devices, Iris scanners, smart phones, RF badges, and Ubisense location technology. See pictures below!
Our goal is to design and implement a middleware operating system that manages the resources contained in an Active Space.  An operating system for such a space must be able to locate the most appropriate device, detect when new devices are spontaneously added to the system, and adapt content when data formats are not compatible with output devices.  Traditional operating systems manage the tasks common to all applications; the same management is necessary for physical spaces.  
In the 1970s James Lovelock formulated and popularized the idea of the Earth - the collective atmosphere, oceans, lithosphere, and biosphere - as a single, cybernetically self-functioning super-organism. This global entity he called "Gaia", after the old Greek Earth-Goddess. The Gaia project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign seeks to bring the same concept to computing. By creating an environment to bridge the gap between virtual and physical objects, we envision bringing physical spaces to life.

The Gaia group is co-organizing the
UbiSys '04 Workshop at UbiComp '04

UbiSys '03 workshop


The Gaia group is co-organizing the
PerWare '05 Workshop at PerCome '05

PerWare '04 Workshop

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0086094.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.