We are moving into a time of pervasive applications that will continuously monitor the surrounding environment and react to changes. This will be supported by wireless sensor technologies that are capable of tracking and transmitting real time data.
An interesting pre-commercial example of this is Carnegie Mellon University’s SenSay Context Aware mobile phone. The researchers note that it can manipulate “ringer volume, vibration, and phone alerts… provide remote callers with the ability to communicate the urgency of their calls, make call suggestions to users when they are idle, and provide the caller with feedback on the current status of the SenSay user.” (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~aura/docdir/sensay_iswc.pdf)
The device has a number of sensors on various points on the phone user’s body to provide data about the user’s context. The phone then analyses the sensor data and “alleviates the cognitive load on users by various methods including detecting when the user is uninterruptible and automatically turning the ringer off.” This innovative design allows the phone to makes decisions for the user about whether or not the phone user should be disturbed by a call.