A survey of context data distribution for mobile ubiquitous systems
The capacity to gather and timely deliver to the service level any relevant information that can characterize the service-provisioning environment, such as computing resources/capabilities, physical device location, user preferences, and time constraints, usually defined as context-awareness, is widely recognized as a core function for the development of modern ubiquitous and mobile systems. Much work has been done to enable context-awareness and to ease the diffusion of context-aware services; at the same time, several middleware solutions have been designed to transparently implement context management and provisioning in the mobile system. However, to the best of our knowledge, an in-depth analysis of the context data distribution, namely, the function in charge of distributing context data to interested entities, is still missing. Starting from the core assumption that only effective and efficient context data distribution can pave the way to the deployment of truly context-aware services, this article aims at putting together current research efforts to derive an original and holistic view of the existing literature. We present a unified architectural model and a new taxonomy for context data distribution by considering and comparing a large number of solutions. Finally, based on our analysis, we draw some of the research challenges still unsolved and identify some possible directions for future work.