In big organizations, active communication takes place between colleagues working in different departments, mostly at an ad-hoc time and place. The communication may use various channels: email, instant messaging, voice or video call, web collaboration, and presence. Unified Communications (UC) means integrating these channels, so that the users can communicate using any of them regardless of the device they are using, or the time and the place. A fundamental element of UC is presence, which informs the reader how he or she can reach their colleague, saving time consuming unsuccessful tries, but still using the most optimal channel available.
We found out suprisedly, that, despite the importance of presence, no UC solution to date incorporates a unit, which automatically determines it. All of the information required to implement this feature is available on the users’ smartphone: the mobile network’s cell information, WiFi information, the users’ calendar, the connected in-car handsfree, etc. Since we belive presence is a fundamental part of the corporate communication, we decided to develop a client, which determines its user’s presence and announces it to the company UC server. Among the platforms, we chose to start with Android, because of its wide availability and the easiness of development on it.
During this semester we designed and implemented this client, called PresenceR. It’s modular structure makes it possible to be customized quickly to particular needs. The current version uses XMPP because of its flexibility, openness and compatibility with Cisco Unified Presence 8, but the module providing the XMPP capabilities can be swapped relatively easily for an other one.
The client doesn’t require user interaction for its day to day operation, and it does not influence the user experience of the phone. Before the first use, it has to be learned to the user’s habits and regular workplaces.
The project is currently in pilot phase. The first reactions from users are positive, and the detailed results will determine the further development goals.