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Development of mobile applications is easy with the Elephant platform

17 February 2009 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

The Fraunhofer Institute for Communications Systems ESK will be premiering its Elephant platform at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Elephant research project makes it ex-tremely easy to develop programs for mobile devices.

Mobile phones have become so popular that nearly everybody owns one. That makes it an ideal platform for disseminating information. Still, the programming of mobile device applications requires proven expertise. That includes separate programs for each type of device. The result is that the development of mobile applications is time-consuming and costly.

Fraunhofer ESK researchers aim to help solve this problem with the Elephant platform. Elephant is based on web technologies that make it extremely easy to compile and prepare existing information so that it can be used on mobile devices. Developers only need to understand their content and know how they want it disseminated. The elements are then allocated per drag and drop. The application is given a structure through multiple shortcuts and process templates. Per mouse click, a packet is generated that prepares the content for use on different mobile devices. The mobile device requires the one-time installation of an application from Fraunhofer ESK, which can interpret all Elephant-based applications.

Elephant developers are in a good position to respond to the user's situation when creating mobile applications. When information is distributed to a mobile phone, it is extremely difficult to consider the situation that the user currently finds himself in. If he is waiting at a bus stop, he can read text. If he is walking or jogging through a park, he needs the information in audio format. The developer can offer alternative templates and content for these different scenarios. The Elephant application then selects the appropriate situation. Fraunhofer ESK researchers are also drawing on so-called presence information, which can be set by the user or automatically recognized by the system. The result is that the provided information matches the current situation.

For the content - Elephant processes text and XML formats as well as diverse image, audio and video files - the researchers created ready-to-use templates. The author defines what the application will eventually look like by selecting a template. The templates can be enhanced by the developer and made available to other users in a Web 2.0 environment. As a next step, researchers will integrate reputation mechanisms that can be used to evaluate the templates.

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