Microsoft Research Ready with Aura

The group plans to make a client application for its Aura project available in a few weeks in its move to use mobile devices for improving interaction between cyberspace and physical objects.

SAN DIEGO—Microsoft Corp.s Research organization is preparing to publicly release in a few weeks the client application for its Aura research project, a researcher told attendees of the OReilly Emerging Technology Conference here.

Research Sociologist Marc Smith, demonstrating Aura during his keynote presentation, explained that the project uses mobile devices to interact with physical objects to retrieve information about them from the Internet as well as to automatically capture and annotate data from them.

"Aura is all about assuming a number of Web resources exist and then gluing these things together," Smith said, in an interview with "Were pulling pieces out of cyberspace and putting them together."

Microsoft Research, which first created a prototype for Aura in 2000, more recently developed a reference architecture using the Toshiba e740 PocketPC with 802.11 wireless access and an attached Socket CF bar-code reader.


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Auras current focus is on reading bar codes because of their ubiquity on everyday objects and products. But its design is agnostic to the type of sensor technologies used to interact with objects and could be used with others such as emerging Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, Smith said.

The Aura client, once available, also could run on various combinations of hardware and with other wireless networks besides WiFi, such as cellular networks. Smith, for example, demonstrated a PocketPC equipped with a bar-code reader and connected to Verizon Wireless network.

The upcoming client application does require Microsofts Windows Mobile 2003 or 2002 software for either PocketPC or PocketPC Phone Edition, Smith said. The client will be available here.

Next page: How Aura differs from CueCat.