A new research collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Quanta Computer aims to tackle the fact that most users’ information such as contacts, calendar and projects, is typically spread across multiple devices, all of which can be troublesome to update and backup.
MIT and the Taiwanese computer company said their “TParty” — technology intended to move routine and interoperability tasks out of the user’s view — centers on creating the next generation of computing and communication platforms, based on a re-engineering and extension of underlying infrastructure, new interfaces and improved data management and access.
Creating the Future
The five-year, US$20 million research partnership brings together the laptop giant and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Mass., where the TParty project will be based.
“Together, Quanta and CSAIL will establish a team and work toward a new world of self-organizing devices that will make our lives more pleasant and productive,” said a statement from CSAIL director and MIT professor Rodney Brooks.
MIT and Quanta said the research collaboration, “designed to change the way people interact with technology,” is a response to the complexity and difficulty of dealing with an array of different devices, such as cell phones, computers, and PDAs. While many devices are described as “smart” and do have connecting and syncing capabilities, it is still often difficult to maintain unified, backed up information.
Details about TParty were somewhat scant, but backers of the effort indicated it may transcend IT with its wide impact on society and communication.
“Combining the exceptional research resources of MIT with the world-leading innovative design and manufacturing engine of Quanta, we are excited about the prospects of bringing brand new products and services to the world that will improve all of our lives and cultures,” said a statement from Barry Lam, chairman and chief executive of Quanta, which is among the world’s largest laptop makers.
Gartner research vice president Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld the collaboration attempts to address a common challenge for computer and mobile device users: multiple contact lists, calendars, and other information spread across two, three or more devices.
Reynolds said some of today’s technology attempts to address the issues, but falls short of a truly intuitive linking of data and use.
“They can work pretty well, but it always seems it requires a bit more juggling than is supposed to be required,” he said. “It feels like it’s never being successfully synced.”
There are also efforts under way, including advances from Microsoft, to make software updates more automatic and less cumbersome. However, Reynolds pointed out that another problem of increased interoperability and communication among devices is security.
Nevertheless, the analyst praised the effort from MIT and Quanta, indicating that the problems the research is trying to address have not yet been solved.
“If they can define the problem and create standards needed for things to work together, it would be good,” Reynolds said, adding that another challenge is getting all of the players — including hardware, software, mobile phone manufacturing companies — on the same page.
“Everyone has to be doing the same thing to make these things work together successfully,” Reynolds said.