It was great to showcase my work at Pervasive 2007, but it was even better being able to see the work that others have done in the field. An example of a paper that I found really interesting was given the best conference paper award and was entitled Shake well before use: Authentication based on Accelerometer Data. The paper, written by Rene Mayrhofer and Hans Gellersen of Lancaster University UK, presented a very simple and elegant solution for authenticating small blue tooth devices. Normally for private key encryption to occur it is necessary to enter in a key/password into each device. An example of this is WEP encryption. However, just like with WEP it can be very cumbersome to enter in these private keys. The paper suggested a method of generating private keys based on accelerometer data generated when a user shakes the two devices in their hand. In a real life application you can imagine picking up a cell phone and Bluetooth headset, giving them a quick shake, and immediately begin using them without any additional configuration. I was impressed at how great an idea this was and how effectively it was researched and presented at the conference.
There several other papers that others may want to check out. If you go to the papers section of the Pervasive website, you can check out for yourself what was presented. Googling the titles will sometimes bring up a PDF version that you can read, or for those of you at UNH, I have the conference proceedings that anybody is welcome to borrow.
Probably my favorite part of my trip to Toronto was the exposure to other cultures. It is not that Toronto is very different from American cities like Boston, but that the conference brought together people from around the globe. Beyond hearing the speakers from other countries, I had the opportunity to talk to people from Germany, Norway, Japan, Denmark, and Scotland as well as other regions of the United States such as New Mexico and Colorado. It was great to hear their views of my work and country, and it was great to learn about their work and countries as well.
Toronto also claims to be a multicultural city and one way I got to experience this was through food. I was happy to be able to brush up on my chopsticks skills (which were/are in dire need of practice) as I went to Japanese sushi, Chinese/Thai fusion, and Dim Sum Chinese restaurants. I also tasted some of the local flavor at a great French/Québécoise restaurant, and visited a small vineyard to taste some wine, including ice wine.
There isn’t much else to say about my experience of other cultures simply because it is such a subjective experience. However, due to this fact I really encourage anyone that travels to try to experience as much of other cultures as possible. This may involve making yourself uncomfortable, such as trying new foods or struggling with language barriers, but it is worth it. I actually have a very introverted personality. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it doesn’t mean that I am uncomfortable in social situations or even that I dislike talking with people, but rather that it takes a great deal of energy for me to socialize. My point being that it would have been much easier for me to retreat to my hotel room and watch TV. However, I didn’t want the opportunity to pass me by and I am glad that I didn’t.