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<artin Griss


Martin Griss is the Associate Dean For Research at Carnegie Mellon Campus at Silicon Valley. Martin is a leading authority on software reuse and component-based development and led HP’s corporate reuse program. 

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priya narasimhan


Priya Narasimhan is Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Co-Director of the CyLab Mobility Research Center. Her research interests lie in the following areas: dependable distributed systems, embedded systems, and distributed system security.

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CyLab Mobililty Research Center

CyLab Chronicles

CyLab Mobility Research Center: Syncing in Anywhere, Anytime

posted by Richard Power

The CyLab Mobility Research Center is positioned to lead the way in one of the most dynamic areas of technical research and education for the 21st Century. So the CyLab Chronicles editorial team sat down recently with Director Dr. Martin Griss and Co-Director, Dr. Priya Narasimhan to get their views on some big picture issues.

CyLab Chronicles: What is your view of the scope of the Mobility concept? Its impact is broad. Is it technology impacting life style or life style shaping technology or both? What does it look like as an industry? How is impacting IT as a whole? Where is it taking us?

NARASIMHAN:  Mobility is many things to many people -- it's infrastructure, devices, user interfaces, data, networking, operating systems, quality-of-service, and then how all of these fit together to enhance the life of the user through the applications that they enjoy. At the CyLab Mobility Center, we're working on all of these problems. Technology impacts lifestyle for sure – technology enhances our day-to-day living, and mobile technologies allow us to enhance our day-to-day living while on the go. At the same time, lifestyle does shape technology. The need for people to stay connected and for people to leverage their (and others') experiences to enrich their lives has driven a lot of the mobile and social-networking technologies.

GRISS:  Mobile systems, including notebook computers, mobile phones, and specialized devices, are becoming the dominant mechanism for Internet access, with various networking technologies enabling anywhere-anytime computing, communication and collaboration. People worldwide (and especially the younger generations) are abandoning landlines in favor of a personal /personalized mobile device (their “mobile companion”).

This mobile lifestyle allows people to work, learn, shop and play on the go. More powerful and useable devices, greater bandwidth and an increasing number of services such as mobile shopping, advertising, reservations and social networking are radically changing how people plan meetings, schedule time and find directions, products, friends and services. 

As the capabilities grow, more people are using these mobility services to change how they live, increasing the demand for more novel services, more power, more coverage and better pricing.  So technology is shaping lifestyle is shaping technology in a rapid spiral.

CyLab Chronicles: What is CyLab Mobility Center's role? How will Mobility Center impact the Mobility wave?

NARASIMHAN: At the CyLab Mobility Center, we're approaching solving mobility problems in a different and more impactful way. We believe in solving real problems in the real world. As such, we're exploring all of these systems concepts -- infrastructure, devices, user interfaces, data, networking, operating systems, file-systems -- through large-scale pilot and testbed deployments. This is a significantly different approach from building small one-off lab projects. We've come to recognize that mobility problems must be solved in the real world, under demanding circumstances, with users whose expectations are high and challenging. Only then can we start to address problems with more impact and more substance.

As a result, we're currently aiming to develop a large-scale, sustainable, mobile systems testbed at Carnegie Mellon. This will be deployed campus-wide and will serve as a rich resource for students, faculty, facility managers and others to develop their research, and more importantly, to explore how day-to-day and emerging needs for information and resources will drive the next mobile platform of the future. We will have researchers working on various aspects of mobility -- privacy platforms, social networking, user interfaces, secure platforms and services, data-mining in the large and in the small -- and then combining all these infrastructural capabilities to support interesting and transformative *large-scale* applications – interactive entertainment, next-generation classrooms, sensor based automated facility management, aging and wellness, etc. The lessons that we learn in the process of deploying such demanding, high-volume systems, devices and applications will undoubtedly influence the next-generation mobile platform/service.

CyLab Chronicles: How does Mobility impact earlier evolutionary developments, e.g. telecommuting, and home computing? Does it assimilate these models? Certainly, it transforms them -- no longer office and home, but anywhere anytime you are at home or office?

NARASIMHAN: Certainly, mobility has come to mean that your data and your electronic life is with you, always, on the go. It should be seamless where you are located and where you are -- you should be fully and seamlessly connected to the bits and bytes in your life, wherever you are, without sacrificing performance or reliability, even if you are on the move.

GRISS: Our role is to broadly research the issues ranging across lifestyle, technology business and policy; to identify trends and participate in formulating standards and supporting toolkits and infrastructure; to foster entrepreneurship and community; to offer leadership and to educate students and faculty to actively participate and lead in this avalanche of change.

CyLab Chronicles: Mobility is one of the unstoppable, overwhelming forces in the flow of technology, one of those forces that changes the landscape and the atmosphere in sweeping ways. What typically happens at such junctures (e.g., the dawn of the PC, and later of the www) is that the security dimension is only an after-thought; the forward pressure is too great. How do we ride this wave in a way that ensures that security is integrated in design and development, and not later, when it is too late to make a real difference?

NARASIMHAN: This is where we at Carnegie Mellon can make a difference. While industry faces these time-to market pressures, we can act as a proofing ground for newer technologies, e.g., security, privacy, reliability. We can answer these more difficult questions that the market needs and that our industrial partners can leverage, even as they continue to develop and release new products.

GRISS: Certainly we need to integrate the mobile lifestyle and technology with existing more sessile technology and services to support telecommuting, home computing and entertainment. This is a rich(er) version of 3 screen convergence. For example, people are viewing TV on their phones, accessing TV through Slingbox, downloading videos via 3G. Phones and home portals will integrate WiFi, Bluetooth and cell wireless; people will expect to be reachable for meetings anywhere anytime, or have these request intelligently filtered and scheduled; they will expect their data to be securely accessible wherever they are, be it at home, in a vehicle or otherwise mobile; they expect their personal preferences and connections to roam seamlessly from device to device. An interesting question is whether a single primary device will carry identity and personality, or whether this will live in the cloud and be appropriately presented/accessed from any convenient device.

CyLab Chronicles: What is unique about Carnegie Mellon's Mobility Center? In particular, articulate for us the advantage of being situated at NASA AMES in the heart of Silicon Valley?

NARASIMHAN: We get the best out of both worlds. We have world-class, cutting-edge research and teaching in Pittsburgh, combined synergistically with industrial research connections in Silicon Valley. Mobility is one of those key and unique areas where research cannot be conducted efficiently or meaningfully without significant industrial input and partnership. The Carnegie Mellon Mobility Center is uniquely positioned to leverage the strengths of the Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley locations, and offering students yet another dimension for their research in a strategic and novel way.

GRISS: We plan to take a holistic perspective, integrating issues such as business, policy, ecosystem, security, usability and technology in choosing projects to work on, partners to work with and in how we educate and guide students to think about the problems. Many other programs focus on technology or a small number of items. We also expect to work on a large pilot project that will drive the synergistic attack on several of the aspects.

In designing the bi-coastal research program and PhD, we have chosen our Silicon Valley campus as a primary focus to complement the broad academic strengths of Pittsburgh because it is located in the center of a rich ecosystem of mobility startups, established companies and industrial research labs. We are only minutes from companies working on different aspects of mobility, such as Accenture, Bosch, Cisco, Google, Facebook, HP, Honda and Nokia.

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