The Simplicity project is a European Union program under IST (reference number IST-2004-507558), scheduled to run for two years, from January 2004 to the end of 2005. 

A trans-European project, Simplicity brings together a unique combination of expertise from major European industrial organizations, network operators, SMEs, research labs and universities.  This rich diversity of backgrounds provides a strong, multi-disciplinary foundation in which each of the eleven partners brings their own special skills and competencies.  Click here for a description of the eleven European partners contributing to the Simplicity project.

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As technology develops, users are faced with an ever-broadening range of ICT devices and network-based services, along with a bewildering array of configuration procedures, access technologies and protocols. 

Excessive complexity places an enormous burden on the shoulders of users, service providers and network operators. Difficulties configuring and customizing interfaces to new and useful technologies risk slowing down their deployment and alienating non-technical users.

In these circumstances, there is a danger that Beyond 3G applications will not exploit the full potential of ambient intelligence, context-aware services and novel access technologies.

 The goal of Simplicity is to reduce this inherent complexity by designing, developing and evaluating an architectural framework that will:

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provide automatic customization of user access to services and the network;

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automatically adapt services to terminal characteristics and user preferences;

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orchestrate network capabilities. 

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The architectural framework will consist of two basic components: the Simplicity Device and a Brokerage Framework.

The Simplicity Device will be a physical plug-in device (e.g., Java card, Java ring, enhanced SIM card, USB pen, etc.) or a functional entity (e.g., software agent).  It will allow users to easily shift from one terminal device to another by storing user preferences and allowing automated customization of terminals or network services, including, for example, the policy-controlled selection of network interfaces. The device will be compatible with a broad range of different terminals (e.g., laptop computers, PDAs, mobile phones, etc.).

The Brokerage Framework will employ easily extensible, policy-based mechanisms to coordinate network capabilities (e.g., mobility support, QoS, security, etc.) by allowing the user to adapt network capabilities to the user's preferences and to the characteristics of the user's terminal.  Users will interact with the Simplicity system via the Brokerage Framework.  The Brokerage Framework will also provide the ability to re-configure terminals via policy-controlled SW downloads.

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To achieve its goals, the Simplicity project will follow the high-level strategy outlined below:

Describe user scenarios and business models.

The Simplicity project will identify real-world scenarios in which an abundance of ICT devices and network services has created obstacles for would-be users.  In its investigation, Simplicity will consider contemporary scenarios, such as a business user trying to interface with multiple devices while traveling across Europe, as well as more futuristic scenarios involving new technologies that have not yet reached the market.  These scenarios will lead to a clear understanding of the gap in today's technology and to the development of concise and accurate user requirements.

Develop these scenarios into system requirements.

The technical and functional requirements for the Simplicity system will derive neatly from an examination of the user scenarios and business models developed in step one.  By studying user requirements, Simplicity designers will create a set of design parameters for the hardware, software and system usability that will guide the development of the Simplicity components in later steps.

Explore new mechanisms and policies for a Brokerage Framework that can operate in a multi-access networking environment.

The Brokerage Framework controls the interaction of the Simplicity Device with the terminal and with the network.  On the terminal side, the framework will be able to discover the terminal's capabilities, adapt to the networking environment, discover network services and provide access to these services.  It must also provide the functionality for the user to interact with the Simplicity system itself.  On the network side, the framework will optimize the fulfillment of the user's requests for network services by considering the user's profile, the terminal capabilities and the network resources that are available. Finally, the framework must be able to download new or updated policies to terminals and the Simplicity Device to ensure a consistently up-to-date policy base. 

Design a universal, multi-application Simplicity Device that provides users with a simple and uniform mechanism for customizing services and terminals.

The ability to shift seamlessly from one terminal device to another while maintaining personal preferences is a core requirement of the Simplicity Device.  By remembering user preferences, the SD will automatically customize any terminals or network services requested by the user. The device must be compatible with a broad range of divergent terminals, from laptop computers to PDAs to mobile phones and beyond.

Validate the feasibility and benefits of the Simplicity approach in a test-bed.

Through a series of practical tests, the Simplicity project will validate the performance of the Simplicity components against the goals and objectives established at the outset of the project.  Will different users who plug their SDs into the same device see a different set of working environments, file systems, software tools, connection services?  Will a user who moves from a laptop computer to a PDA see the same personalized working environment, now molded to the characteristics of the PDA?  A user should be able to suspend applications and network sessions simply by unplugging the SD from a device.  Upon returning to the device, will the suspended applications and sessions resume and adapt automatically to any new context information?  Using a combination of simulations and prototypes, Simplicity will reach concrete conclusions about the feasibility and benefits of the Simplicity approach.

Contribute to relevant standardization bodies.

While making full use of existing standards in the development of the Simplicity system, the Simplicity project will actively contribute to various global standardization bodies to promote ideas and influence nascent standards at a very early stage.   Simplicity plans active membership in these bodies through participation in e-mail discussions and attendance of their regular meetings.  Targeted bodies may include the industry-drive Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), various working groups within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF).  Finally, Simplicity will closely monitor the standardization activities of hardware manufacturers, network operators, IT service providers, SMEs, universities and other research centers, many of them directly linked to the project via Simplicity's diverse range of consortium partners.

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