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Soft-appliances: A vision for user created networked appliances in digital homes


In this paper we introduce a vision for a new type of domestic appliance, a soft-appliance, constructed from aggregations of elementary network services. The vision is based on the possibility of ‘deconstructing’, logically, conventional home appliances such as TVs into their elemental functions which may then be combined in novel ways with other deconstructed services to generate soft-appliance of a person's own choosing. Additionally our aim is to describe the computer science challenges involved in fulfilling this vision. An essential component of this vision is a concept called a MAp (meta-appliance/application); a semantic data template that describes the soft or virtual-appliance that can be instantiated by manufacturers and end-users in a way that redefines the nature of an appliance and which can be created, owned and traded. We also present a socio-technical framework to motivate the discussion of this research agenda, especially the use of the agent technology that would be needed to realise this vision.