Context aware applications, which can adapt their behaviors to changing environments, are attracting more and more attention. To simplify the complexity of developing applications, context aware middleware, which introduces context awareness into the traditional middleware, is highlighted to provide a homogeneous interface involving generic context management solutions. This paper provides a survey of state-of-the-art context aware middleware architectures proposed during the period from 2009 through 2015. First, a preliminary background, such as the principles of context, context awareness, context modelling, and context reasoning, is provided for a comprehensive understanding of context aware middleware. On this basis, an overview of eleven carefully selected middleware architectures is presented and their main features explained. Then, thorough comparisons and analysis of the presented middleware architectures are performed based on technical parameters including architectural style, context abstraction, context reasoning, scalability, fault tolerance, interoperability, service discovery, storage, security & privacy, context awareness level, and cloud-based big data analytics. The analysis shows that there is actually no context aware middleware architecture that complies with all requirements. Finally, challenges are pointed out as open issues for future work.
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