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In “Interactive Systems III” we realized a design project of our choice completely from the conception to the implementation. Our team developed Awarenia, a system to quickly and easily publish and share devices and resources in a network.

Our aim was the development of a system with which the devices attached to a computer and the contained resources could remotely be “plugged” into other computers to use them as if they were locally present there. The most important factor of our project was user-friendliness – remotely “plugging in” devices was to be as easy as plugging them in locally via USB. The “owner” of a device was to have complete control over who might use the it and who not and had to always be able to recognize easily who was using it at the moment.

The System

Main element of Awarenia is a user interface in which each computer in the local network is represented by a circular object. The own computer is also represented by such an object. To make them easily distinguishable, for different computers different colours are used. Each object consists of multiple nested circles. The innermost circle contains the name of the machine and an icon in the corresponding colour. In the surrounding circle icons for all devices of this machine that can be plugged in remotely are arranged. For all computers except the own one only devices that can be plugged in by the local computer are displayed. The outermost circle contains icons for the devices of other machines that are plugged in at the corresponding computer. These icons are displayed in the colours of the respective machines.

When a computer or device is clicked, various settings are possible, e.g. who can plug in the respective device. Two modes are possible for this: General permission, except for specific machines, or permission for specific machines only. Other settings include whether the “owner” of a device is asked when another user wants to plug it in and device specific settings. There is also the possibility to create multiple profiles with different configurations for a local device that appear as distinct devices to other computers.

We developed a prototype in JavaFX and Java, using Bonjour/Avahi for automatical discovery of computers in the network and a specially created protocol for communication. The actual sharing of devices has not been implemented yet.

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