Pervasive Widgets. Introducing the HERMITs

About HermitNow that the first decade of XXI century is about to finish, it is time to introduce a revolutionary concept to develop during the next one.


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The Papermint Design team proudly introduces the HERMITs.

What is a Hermit?

A Hermit is a new concept bringing together the well-know Desktop Widgets and the not-so-well-known mobile agents. A Hermit looks like a widget in your desktop, but what makes it different is that it can move from one device to another...

Let's introduce Lovelock, the first Hermit ever, to illustrate how they work

Lovelock

Lovelock is our PoC hermit. Basically it is an assistant that follow us from device to device to support us at any time and with all the available resources available.

Let's see how Jane uses her Lovelock in a normal day.


Jane is ready to go to the office and picks up her mobile phone. Touches the screen and his Lovelock appears in the screen showing a summary of her pending tasks, including unanswered "important" mails.

On her way to the office, Jane checks some of the mails Lovelock has selected for her and takes a look her tasks for today.

When Jane arrives to the office and starts using her computer there. Lovelock will move to the Jane's desktop computer and show itself on the desktop as the same nice widget she'd got in her mobile a couple of seconds ago.

During the day, Jane updates her TODO list, marking some tasks as DONE and adding some new ones. She can do all this using the comfortable mouse, keyboard and big screen on her Office Desktop Computer. No need to type on the touch screen.

It is time to go home. Jane picks up her phone, touches the screen and Lovelock leaves her Office Desktop computer towards her smart phone. All the data Jane updated during the day travels with Lovelock from the
computer to the phone.

When Jane arrives at home, she checks her personal mail using her home laptop. Lovelock immediately detects that Jane is using that computer and moves to her laptop. The same nice and familiar widget appears again on the desktop.

Now, Jane uses her Lovelock everyday. It is always there, doesn't matter which device she is using.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?. It also sounds useful and it even sounds a bit scifi... But it is almost real


The Techy Details

Our current Lovelock prototype runs on almost any Linux device. It uses the following components:

  • Wendy. Our very basic widget desktop. It provides the functionality to draw images and text on an SDL window... pretty primitive and simple, but it does the work.
  • AGNES. Based on GNU/EDMA, AGNES is a PoC Mobile Agent Platform developed to test the GNU/EDMA dynamic capabilities.

Everything will be ready for download very soon.

So, Lovelock is basically an AGNES agent (a GNU/EDMA class) that implements a very simplistic (for the time being) TODO list and uses our Wendy Widget desktop to visualize information.

Actually, we would prefer to use our picoFlamingo environment but the lack of 3D acceleration on the OpenMoko was a no-go for this first demo. Anyway, that will come, along with proper Desktop integration... but that is not the point here.

Our current demonstration works on x86 computers, OpenMoko and our OMAP Zoom2/Beagleboard devices. We have not shown those in the video above, because we are preparing a much more nice demonstration using those devices.

Future

More Hermits are coming, and we are pretty sure we will see this approach very soon on commercial devices... why? Because a lot of us would like to have cloud-like services without compromising our data.

The Hermit concept provides ubiquitous access to the data... because the data is always with you, not in a server you do not know anything about.

Where does the name Lovelock comes from?

From the Orson Scott Card novel titled Lovelock. In the book Lovelock is a monkey that helps a scientist on her work, documenting her experiments.

Where does the name Hermit comes from?

It comes from the Hermit Crab. This animal carries its house but from time to time it moves to a new one. Despite of the meaning of the word when referred to persons, Hermit Crabs are social animals living in community and heavily interacting.