Happy 2013 and congratulations on surviving the Mayan apocalypse! My name is Chris Karr and I’m one of the software guys (along with Mark, Evan, Gabe, and others) at “Techtopia” as part of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. At Techtopia, we work with both internal and external researchers and collaborators to create the next generation of psychological tools to assist patients in need. I’ve officially been a member of the Techtopia crew since last September (2011), but I’ve been working with them in an outside capacity back as early as 2009, when I put together a Qt-based native app for the initial Mobilyze trials on Nokia Symbian devices. When I decided to exit the independent consulting business in 2011, I evaluated a variety of options, and joined CBITs because of the extremely interesting and meaningful work that they were doing. In the Chicago area, there were few opportunities for me take techniques like machine learning and ubiquitous computing and apply them to concrete problems facing everyday people. At CBITs, I saw that opportunity and took it. In terms of my background, my formal educational background consists of a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Princeton University (where I worked with Brian Kernighan to create a system predating and not dissimilar to Google Earth) and a Master’s degree in Media, Technology and Society from Northwestern University’s School of Communication where my work with Darren Gergle focused on applied context-aware computing. Prior to my Master’s work, I worked for Northwestern University the first time at Academic Technologies where I was responsible for creating technologies for professors and others that supported the University’s teaching and research missions. After receiving my Master’s degree, I started and ran Audacious Software as a consulting firm providing services start-up and research clients. As a software craftsman, my primary interest lies in the realm of ubiquitous computing. It’s my personal belief that we can be much more ambitious with our mobile platforms beyond today’s basic and isolated apps and I look forward to writing more about how I translate that belief into shipping products. If you’re interested in learning more about my approach, I strongly encourage you to take a look at some of the work I’ve done thus far and my ongoing projects:
* Shion: An open-source platform for home automation. (GitHub: desktop app, iOS app)
* Pennyworth: My original context-awareness research on the Mac and other platforms.
* SMSBot: An open-sourced platform for creating interactive dialogs using SMS text messaging.
* Fresh Comics: This is what happens when an ubicomp obsession meets a comic book obsession.
* Audacious Software: A select list of my work from my past life as an independent contractor.
I’m glad to have this opportunity to share my work and thoughts in the months ahead and I hope that my upcoming posts are both interesting and useful.