Ubiquitous commerce

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Ubiquitous Commerce also known as U-Commerce, u commerce or uCommerce, refers to a variety of goods and/or services. Sometimes, it is used to refer to the wireless, continuous communication and exchange of data and information between and among retailers, customers, and systems (e.g., applications) regardless of location, devices used, or time of day.

Communication is the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic rules.

In sales, commerce and economics, a customer is the recipient of a good, service, product or an idea - obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier via a financial transaction or exchange for money or some other valuable consideration.

A system is a group of interacting or interrelated entities that form a unified whole. A system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment, described by its structure and purpose and expressed in its functioning. Systems are the subjects of study of systems theory.


Sometimes, U-Commerce describes the generic term for all-encompassing business transactions through or by means of information and communications technology. Ubiquitous commerce or uCommerce should not be confused with U.Commerce, which is a set of products and services offered by TouchNet Information Systems, Inc. and is a registered U.S. trademark (Reg. 4,069,063).

Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audiovisual systems, that enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.

Core Concepts

According to Richard T. Watson the next generation of commerce referred to as Ubiquitous Commerce (or U-Commerce) includes four major features:


U-Commerce is described as the evolution of E-Commerce and M-Commerce also combining the areas of V-commerce, Television-Commerce (T-commerce) as well as Silent-Commerce (S-Commerce).

The term mobile commerce was originally coined in 1997 by Kevin Duffey at the launch of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum, to mean "the delivery of electronic commerce capabilities directly into the consumer’s hand, anywhere, via wireless technology." Many choose to think of Mobile Commerce as meaning "a retail outlet in your customer’s pocket."

T-Commerce is a term describing trade via a (smart) digital TV-set which - besides its main functionality - acts as a marketing channel enabling bidirectional communication enabling interactive advertising and addressable advertising. It is part of Electronic Business and e-Commerce which themselves are the most prominent parts of u-Commerce. The promise of T-commerce is to enhance shopping channels as well as regular TV ads by offering consumers a "One-Click" "Buy It" possibility.

Silent Commerce is an expression for the execution of business transactions between electronic devices. It happens without assistance and in some cases even without awareness of the human owners of those devices.


The origin and development of Ubiquitous Commerce is based on various information and communication technologies. These technologies were driving forces for the evolution to business transactions at any time and in any place and so they will be in the future.

Among them are the following examples:

  • Internet as the fundamental technology and source
Wireless LAN wireless computer network that links devices using wireless communication within a limited area

A wireless LAN (WLAN) is a wireless computer network that links two or more devices using wireless communication to form a local area network (LAN) within a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, campus, office building etc. This gives users the ability to move around within the area and yet still be connected to the network. Through a gateway, a WLAN can also provide a connection to the wider Internet.

The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP, UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.

4G is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G. A 4G system must provide capabilities defined by ITU in IMT Advanced. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.

  • TV technologies/add-ons like Teletext and increasingly IPTV
Teletext Television information retrieval service developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s

Teletext, or broadcast teletext, is a videotex standard for displaying text and rudimentary graphics on suitably equipped television sets. Teletext sends data in the broadcast signal, hidden in the invisible vertical blank interrupt area at the top and bottom of the screen. The teletext decoder in the television buffers this information as a series of "pages", each given a number. The user can display chosen pages using their remote control.

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is the delivery of television content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. This is in contrast to delivery through traditional terrestrial, satellite, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the source media continuously. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the content almost immediately. This is known as streaming media.

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the concept of businesses electronically communicating information that was traditionally communicated on paper, such as purchase orders and invoices. Technical standards for EDI exist to facilitate parties transacting such instruments without having to make special arrangements.

XML Markup language developed by the W3C for encoding of data

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. The World Wide Web Consortium's XML 1.0 Specification of 1998 and several other related specifications—all of them free open standards—define XML.

The term Web service (WS) is either:

In addition, there are also technologies regarding the concept of Ubiquitous Computing which are and will be the main driving forces for the Ubiquitous Commerce. These are mainly the following:

  • technologies of M2M communication, which include some of the technologies mentioned above
  • methods for the automatic identification and data capture (Auto-ID) e.g. GPS und RFID
  • in the future also smart and self-organizing devices/systems and the related technologies like sensors, AI

Opportunities and threats

In conjunction of the evolution of ubiquitous commerce in daily life and the approaching pervasiveness, a few opportunities as well as threats can be identified.[ citation needed ]


  • individual advertising and also information supply e.g. based on location, time or mood of the customer
  • high availability of services
  • new potential revenue for supplier and accordingly new business models
  • advanced analysis alternatives for suppliers and customers (location, time, habit)
  • increasing mobility of customers and suppliers


  • information privacy and threatening of mass surveillance
  • increasing requirements due to more diversity and quantity of devices and also energy consumption
  • Information overload and likely complexity - also Big Data
  • higher vulnerability to spoofing and security holes; e.g. as a result of more targets
  • rising exclusion of the elderly based on requirements of higher technical skills
  • "desocialization" of customer and supplier

See also

Related Research Articles

Ubiquitous computing is a concept in software engineering and computer science where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere. In contrast to desktop computing, ubiquitous computing can occur using any device, in any location, and in any format. A user interacts with the computer, which can exist in many different forms, including laptop computers, tablets and terminals in everyday objects such as a refrigerator or a pair of glasses. The underlying technologies to support ubiquitous computing include Internet, advanced middleware, operating system, mobile code, sensors, microprocessors, new I/O and user interfaces, networks, mobile protocols, location and positioning, and new materials.

A location-based service (LBS) is the name for a general class of policies in software-level services that provide for accessing data, files, pipes, memory objects, streams and other or online services. Access policies are controlled by location data and/or time-of-day constraints, or a combination thereof. As such, an LBS is an information service and has a number of uses in social networking today as information, in entertainment or security, which is accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and which uses information on the geographical position of the mobile device.

Online Business or e-business is any kind of business or commercial transaction that includes sharing information across the internet. Commerce constitutes the exchange of products and services between businesses, groups and individuals and can be seen as one of the essential activities of any business. Electronic commerce focuses on the use of ICT to enable the external activities and relationships of the business with individuals, groups and other businesses, while e-business refers to business with help of the internet. The term "e-business" was coined by IBM's marketing and Internet team in 1996.

Context awareness is a property of mobile devices that is defined complementarity to location awareness. Whereas location may determine how certain processes around a contributing device operate, context may be applied more flexibly with mobile users, especially with users of smart phones. Context awareness originated as a term from ubiquitous computing or as so-called pervasive computing which sought to deal with linking changes in the environment with computer systems, which are otherwise static. The term has also been applied to business theory in relation to contextual application design and business process management issues.

Telematics integrated use of telecommunications and informatics for application in vehicles

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, for instance, road transportation, road safety, electrical engineering, and computer science. Telematics can involve any of the following:

The telecommunications industry within the sector of information and communication technology is made up of all Telecommunications/telephone companies and internet service providers and plays the crucial role in the evolution of mobile communications and the information society.

Object hyperlinking, or simply 'phylinking', is a neologism that usually refers to extending the Internet to objects and locations in the real world. The current Internet does not extend beyond the electronic realm. Object hyperlinking aims to extend the Internet to the physical world by attaching tags with URLs to tangible objects or locations. These object tags can then be read by a wireless mobile device and information about objects and locations retrieved and displayed.

Verifone is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Jose, California, that provides technology for electronic payment transactions and value-added services at the point-of-sale. Verifone sells merchant-operated, consumer-facing and self-service payment systems to the financial, retail, hospitality, petroleum, government and healthcare industries. The company's products consist of POS electronic payment devices that run its own operating systems, security and encryption software, and certified payment software, and that are designed for both consumer-facing and unattended environments.

Smart environments link computers and other smart devices to everyday settings and tasks. Smart environments include smart homes, smart cities and smart manufacturing.

Machine to machine (M2M) is direct communication between devices using any communications channel, including wired and wireless. Machine to machine communication can include industrial instrumentation, enabling a sensor or meter to communicate the information it records to application software that can use it. Such communication was originally accomplished by having a remote network of machines relay information back to a central hub for analysis, which would then be rerouted into a system like a personal computer.

Smart meter type of utility meter that uses advanced technology

A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters typically record energy hourly or more frequently, and report at least daily. Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communication between the meter and the supplier. Communications from the meter to the network may be wireless, or via fixed wired connections such as power line carrier (PLC). Wireless communication options in common use include cellular communications, Wi-Fi, wireless ad hoc networks over Wi-Fi, wireless mesh networks, low power long range wireless (LoRa), ZigBee, and Wi-SUN.

Computer network collection of autonomous computers interconnected by a single technology

A computer network is a digital telecommunications network which allows nodes to share resources. In computer networks, computing devices exchange data with each other using connections between nodes. These data links are established over cable media such as wires or optic cables, or wireless media such as Wi-Fi.

Unified communications (UC) is a business and marketing concept describing the integration of enterprise communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice, mobility features, audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging. UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.

An indoor positioning system (IPS) is a network of devices used to locate people or objects where GPS and other satellite technologies lack precision or fail entirely, such as inside multistory buildings, airports, alleys, parking garages, and underground locations. A large variety of techniques and devices are used to provide indoor positioning ranging from reconfigured devices already deployed such as smartphones, WiFi and Bluetooth antennas, digital cameras, and clocks; to purpose built installations with relays and beacons strategically placed throughout a defined space. IPS has broad applications in commercial, military, retail, and inventory tracking industries. There are several commercial systems on the market, but no standards for an IPS system. Instead each installation is tailored to spacial dimensions, building materials, accuracy needs, and budget constraints. Lights, radio waves, magnetic fields, acoustic signals, and behavioral analytics are all used in IPS networks.. IPS has achieved location accuracy of 20-30cmcompared to GPS with an accuracy of 4.9 meters outdoors.

Location awareness refers to devices that can passively or actively determine their location. Navigational instruments provide location coordinates for vessels and vehicles. Surveying equipment identifies location with respect to a well-known locationa wireless communications device. Network location awareness (NLA) describes the location of a node in a network.

A vehicle tracking system combines the use of automatic vehicle location in individual vehicles with software that collects these fleet data for a comprehensive picture of vehicle locations. Modern vehicle tracking systems commonly use GPS or GLONASS technology for locating the vehicle, but other types of automatic vehicle location technology can also be used. Vehicle information can be viewed on electronic maps via the Internet or specialized software. Urban public transit authorities are an increasingly common user of vehicle tracking systems, particularly in large cities.

Mobile technology is the technology used for cellular communication. Mobile code-division multiple access (CDMA) technology has evolved rapidly over the past few years. Since the start of this millennium, a standard mobile device has gone from being no more than a simple two-way pager to being a mobile phone, GPS navigation device, an embedded web browser and instant messaging client, and a handheld gaming console. Many experts believe that the future of computer technology rests in mobile computing with wireless networking. Mobile computing by way of tablet computers are becoming more popular. Tablets are available on the 3G and 4G networks.

Spatial contextual awareness consociates contextual information such as an individual's or sensor's location, activity, the time of day, and proximity to other people or objects and devices. It is also defined as the relationship between and synthesis of information garnered from the spatial environment, a cognitive agent, and a cartographic map. The spatial environment is the physical space in which the orientation or wayfinding task is to be conducted; the cognitive agent is the person or entity charged with completing a task; and the map is the representation of the environment which is used as a tool to complete the task.

A connected car is a car that is equipped with Internet access, and usually also with a wireless local area network (LAN). This allows the car to share internet access, and hence data, with other devices both inside and outside the vehicle. For safety-critical applications, it is anticipated that cars will also be connected using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) radios, operating in the FCC-granted 5.9 GHz band with very low latency.