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Personal Information Environments

Eight Computing Advancements At IBM Research
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Personal Information Environments

Addressing the problem that most of us have with carrying multiple gadgets, using multiple computers, and signing into to a variety of Web services, the IBM Personal Information Environment project is a new platform that attempts to unify several disparate messaging systems and computers. There is a central PIE server and a PIE client, but they are not tied to one particular device. Each client you use (a laptop, a smartphone, a desktop computer) runs as a client to the PIE server. The real advantage is that all communicate filters through the PIE server, be it an e-mail, status update, or instant message, in one familiar interface. There is also a file syncing service that makes sure you have access to the same files regardless of which device you use, and a search function that searches all personal data on the server.

Another example of how PIE works: if you create a task list of things you need to do in your job, you can access the same task list from any device. If you add an item to the list, and then access it from a different device, you will see the updated list. It’s essentially a communication system in the cloud that is not tied to any particular Web site, operating system, or software program.

“We're recognizing that users employ persistent collections of devices and we are supporting that practice with software, leveraging the instant messaging protocols, that makes it easy for developers to build services that communicate information, events, and commands across devices,” says Jeff Pierce, the manager of Mobile Computing Research at IBM Research Almaden. 

The concept behind PIE is to unify all communication on a central server and make it searchable, accessible from any device, and synced automatically so that data is always up to date.

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