The sheer complexity and number of functionalities embedded in many everyday devices already exceed the ability of most users to learn how to use them effectively. An approach to tackle this problem is to introduce ‘smart’ capabilities in technical products, to enable them to proactively assist and co-operate with humans and other products. In this paper we provide an overview of our approach to realizing networks of proactive and co-operating smart products, starting from the requirements imposed by real-world scenarios. In particular, we present an ontology-based approach to modeling proactive problem solving, which builds on and extends earlier work in the knowledge acquisition community on problem solving methods. We then move on to the technical design aspects of our work and illustrate the solutions, to do with semantic data management and co-operative problem solving, which are needed to realize our functional architecture for proactive problem solving in concrete networks of physical and resource-constrained devices. Finally, we evaluate our solution by showing that it satisfies the quality attributes and architectural design patterns, which are desirable in collaborative multi-agents systems.
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