All Devices. All of the time.

NSF Funds Write Once App Programming Model

In our constantly changing world we’ve come to rely on apps to tell us everything from the weather and today’s news to traffic and fitness tips. Between the hustle and bustle of daily life we overlook the intricate technology it takes to make those apps available on all of our devices such as tablets, phones and smartwatches.

In order to make those apps compatible, there is a complicated process of rewriting the app code to make it fit on smaller or larger devices. While this is a process we don’t see happening, it’s also a time consuming one. Professors Aruna Balasubramanian (Principal Investigator/PI) and Roy Shilkrot (Co-PI) in the Department of Computer Science (CS) at Stony Brook, which is part of the ­­­­, have received funding to make apps accessible on all platforms without the need for time consuming re-coding.

“The goal is to extend a smartphone app to other interfaces,” Dr. Balasubramanian said, explaining that this would be done in two parts. The first part she said would need to answer the question, “How do you decide what to extend,” and the second part answers, “How do I actually automatically generate this app.”
Armed with National Science Foundation (NSF) grant funding in the amount of $284,497, the project Easily Adapting Apps to Diverse Wearable Form Factors consists of a system, UIWear, that will virtualize the application’s user interface (UI) so that an application can be adapted, viewed, accessed, and controlled from any remote device. Whether it using a wearable device such as a smart watch, a smart sensor, or even a tablet; a companion app will be automatically created without requiring the developer to explicitly write one.

The project incorporates programming, systems and networking and will bridge the gap between how system software is designed to support user interfaces.

According to Professor Samir Das, interim chair of the CS department, “The anticipated benefits of UIWear reach beyond computer science and have the potential to complement other accessibility innovations such as new applications for the visually impaired. Balasubramanian and Shilkrot are two of our department’s leading researchers in this area. This is the type of research that cements the bond between the department and the user community.”

Balasubramanian will introduce projects based on a similar concept of working with wearable interfaces to the Girls who Code club at Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson, NY, which she advises.

While the project may be ambitious it is certainly doable. “We’ve already started working on this and in about a year we’ll probably have a prototype,” Balasubramanian said. Given this is a three year project she said her and her team will need all of the time to test, tweak and perfect the system once their prototype is finished.

About the Researchers

has been an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University for two years. Her research is dedicated to mobile systems and protocol and improving the performance of such systems. This recent wearable technology project is not her first expedition into the mobile tech world. Another recent project, MobileHub, works to reduce energy consumption of always-on sensing applications by leveraging heterogeneous hardware. Her project titled WProf was a tool that identified the bottlenecks during page loads and a project called FindAll made mobile applications less reliant on the cloud by building a local search engine on phones that let users search locally.

In addition to the CS department, ​is also affiliated with Stony Brook’s Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture, and Technology (cDACT). He joined the department as an assistant professor in 2016 and he completed his Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the past he has worked as a researcher in the Computer Graphics lab in Tel-Aviv University and his research interests include augmented reality, human computer interaction (HCI), computer graphics and computer vision.