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The MIThril vision
MIThril Enchantment Software
Real-Time Contxt Engine
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The MIThril project is driven by the need for a truly functional,
wearable, and flexible research platform for context-aware wearable
computing research, and inspired by the work of many researchers,
professors, colleagues and friends. Our goal is not simply to build a
platform, but to build a community of researchers, designers, and
users. There is a great deal of technical depth and hard engineering
behind MIThril, but first and foremost MIThril is about people and our
desire to make people's lives better.
People vs. Users
The design philosophy of MIThril starts with people, not "users." One
might use a hammer or PDA, but a person wears a
watch or a shirt; the watch and shirt are always functioning and
require a minimum of the wearer's attention.
Wearable computing is technology you live with; it must be
synergistic, flexible, and adaptable to a wide range of
circumstances. Our goal is to learn how to support people in their
daily lives, which means building technology that is reliable,
comfortable, useful, and makes maximal use of the time and attention
of the person wearing it.
Before we can make technology useful, we must understand the ways in
which it can be used. In the case of wearable computing, no amount of
sophistication in the hardware or computation will make up for a poor
interface. Bad HCI on the desktop is annoying, bad HCI in a wearable
is life-threatening. In order to build wearable applications and
systems which are useful, we must first understand how people interact
with the real world and each other. By understanding, sensing, and
modeling these interactions, we can build interfaces and applications
which facilitate and support people, rather than getting in their way.
Context Awareness and HCI
We believe that context awareness is critical to good wearable HCI.
Context, or non-explicit user input, is gathered through sensing and
modeling the person's environment, state, and task. By knowing
something about where the person is and what they are doing, we can
create interactions which proactivily support, anticipate, and
facilitate the person's task.
Context awareness requires sensing and modeling. MIThril supports
research in context awareness by providing a platform for both. The
MIThril Body Bus supports a wide
range of sensing options from (relatively) high-bandwidth USB cameras and
microphones to low-bandwidth custom I2C sensors
(accelerometers, biosensors, IR active tag readers, etc.).
The MIThril computing cores and MIThril Body Network provide a
computational resource for environment, task, and user modeling, and
wireless connectivity to ship data off the body for external
As much as possible we hope to make MIThril development a research
application driven process; it is easy to loose sight of the overall
goal (doing research to create technology that helps people) if we do
not constantly tie the development process back to the research we
want to do in the first place. For this reason we are committed to
deploying research applications as quickly as we can with the tools
By making our designs and research available on the web, we hope to
foster a community of MIThril researchers, developers, and
(eventually) users. Over the coming months expect to see detailed
plans (schematics, part lists, CAD files, etc.) for MIThril
components as well as source code and other technical documentation.
Please be patient; we are still in the prototyping phase and must
still hand-build (and blue-wire hack) our boards, connectors, and
cables to make them work. As of the time of this writing (mid
November 2000), there are only two packaged, functioning MIThril vests
in operation, and several more in various states of assembly and
If you wish to be notified when new MIThril information becomes
available, please send email to
<MIThrilemail@example.com> and ask to be
subscribed to the MIThril announcement list.