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Ubiquitous computing (or "ubicomp") 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.
Software engineering is the application of engineering to the development of software in a systematic method.
Computer science is the study of processes that interact with data and that can be represented as data in the form of programs. It enables the use of algorithms to manipulate, store, and communicate digital information. A computer scientist studies the theory of computation and the practice of designing software systems.
A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device, typically with a mobile operating system and touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single thin, flat package. Tablets, being computers, do what other personal computers do, but lack some input/output (I/O) abilities that others have. Modern tablets largely resemble modern smartphones, the only differences being that tablets are relatively larger than smartphones, with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or larger, measured diagonally, and may not support access to a cellular network.
This paradigm is also described as pervasive computing,ambient intelligence, or "everyware". Each term emphasizes slightly different aspects. When primarily concerning the objects involved, it is also known as physical computing, the Internet of Things, haptic computing, and "things that think". Rather than propose a single definition for ubiquitous computing and for these related terms, a taxonomy of properties for ubiquitous computing has been proposed, from which different kinds or flavors of ubiquitous systems and applications can be described.
In science and philosophy, a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.
In computing, ambient intelligence (AmI) refers to electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. Ambient intelligence is a vision on the future of consumer electronics, telecommunications and computing that was originally developed in the late 1990s by Eli Zelkha and his team at Palo Alto Ventures for the time frame 2010–2020. In an ambient intelligence world, devices work in concert to support people in carrying out their everyday life activities, tasks and rituals in an easy, natural way using information and intelligence that is hidden in the network connecting these devices. As these devices grow smaller, more connected and more integrated into our environment, the technology disappears into our surroundings until only the user interface remains perceivable by users.
Physical computing means building interactive physical systems by the use of software and hardware that can sense and respond to the analog world. While this definition is broad enough to encompass systems such as smart automotive traffic control systems or factory automation processes, it is not commonly used to describe them. In a broader sense, physical computing is a creative framework for understanding human beings' relationship to the digital world. In practical use, the term most often describes handmade art, design or DIY hobby projects that use sensors and microcontrollers to translate analog input to a software system, and/or control electro-mechanical devices such as motors, servos, lighting or other hardware.
Ubiquitous computing touches on distributed computing, mobile computing, location computing, mobile networking, sensor networks, human–computer interaction, context-aware smart home technologies, and artificial intelligence.
Distributed computing is a field of computer science that studies distributed systems. A distributed system is a system whose components are located on different networked computers, which communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages to one another. The components interact with one another in order to achieve a common goal. Three significant characteristics of distributed systems are: concurrency of components, lack of a global clock, and independent failure of components. Examples of distributed systems vary from SOA-based systems to massively multiplayer online games to peer-to-peer applications.
Mobile computing is human–computer interaction by which a computer is expected to be transported during normal usage, which allows for transmission of data, voice and video. Mobile computing involves mobile communication, mobile hardware, and mobile software. Communication issues include ad hoc networks and infrastructure networks as well as communication properties, protocols, data formats and concrete technologies. Hardware includes mobile devices or device components. Mobile software deals with the characteristics and requirements of mobile applications.
Human–computer interaction (HCI) researches the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people (users) and computers. Researchers in the field of HCI both observe the ways in which humans interact with computers and design technologies that let humans interact with computers in novel ways. As a field of research, human–computer interaction is situated at the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design, media studies, and several other fields of study. The term was popularized by Stuart K. Card, Allen Newell, and Thomas P. Moran in their seminal 1983 book, The Psychology of Human–Computer Interaction, although the authors first used the term in 1980 and the first known use was in 1975. The term connotes that, unlike other tools with only limited uses, a computer has many uses and this takes place as an open-ended dialog between the user and the computer. The notion of dialog likens human–computer interaction to human-to-human interaction, an analogy which is crucial to theoretical considerations in the field.
At their core, all models of ubiquitous computing share a vision of small, inexpensive, robust networked processing devices, distributed at all scales throughout everyday life and generally turned to distinctly common-place ends. For example, a domestic ubiquitous computing environment might interconnect lighting and environmental controls with personal biometric monitors woven into clothing so that illumination and heating conditions in a room might be modulated, continuously and imperceptibly. Another common scenario posits refrigerators "aware" of their suitably tagged contents, able to both plan a variety of menus from the food actually on hand, and warn users of stale or spoiled food.
Ubiquitous computing presents challenges across computer science: in systems design and engineering, in systems modelling, and in user interface design. Contemporary human-computer interaction models, whether command-line, menu-driven, or GUI-based, are inappropriate and inadequate to the ubiquitous case. This suggests that the "natural" interaction paradigm appropriate to a fully robust ubiquitous computing has yet to emerge – although there is also recognition in the field that in many ways we are already living in a ubicomp world (see also the main article on Natural user interfaces). Contemporary devices that lend some support to this latter idea include mobile phones, digital audio players, radio-frequency identification tags, GPS, and interactive whiteboards.
In computing, a natural user interface, or NUI, or natural interface is a user interface that is effectively invisible, and remains invisible as the user continuously learns increasingly complex interactions. The word natural is used because most computer interfaces use artificial control devices whose operation has to be learned.
A mobile phone, cell phone, cellphone, or hand phone, sometimes shortened to simply mobile, cell or just phone, is a portable telephone that can make and receive calls over a radio frequency link while the user is moving within a telephone service area. The radio frequency link establishes a connection to the switching systems of a mobile phone operator, which provides access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Modern mobile telephone services use a cellular network architecture, and, therefore, mobile telephones are called cellular telephones or cell phones, in North America. In addition to telephony, 2000s-era mobile phones support a variety of other services, such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications, business applications, video games, and digital photography. Mobile phones offering only those capabilities are known as feature phones; mobile phones which offer greatly advanced computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically-stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader's interrogating radio waves. Active tags have a local power source and may operate hundreds of meters from the RFID reader. Unlike a barcode, the tag need not be within the line of sight of the reader, so it may be embedded in the tracked object. RFID is one method of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC).
Mark Weiser proposedthree basic forms for ubiquitous system devices (see also smart device): tabs, pads and boards.
Mark D. Weiser was a chief scientist at Xerox PARC in the United States. Weiser is widely considered to be the father of ubiquitous computing, a term he coined in 1988.
A smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, LiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously. Several notable types of smart devices are smartphones, smart cars, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart locks, smart refrigerators, phablets and tablets, smartwatches, smart bands, smart key chains, smart speakers and others. The term can also refer to a device that exhibits some properties of ubiquitous computing, including—although not necessarily—artificial intelligence.
These three forms proposed by Weiser are characterized by being macro-sized, having a planar form and on incorporating visual output displays. If we relax each of these three characteristics we can expand this range into a much more diverse and potentially more useful range of ubiquitous computing devices. Hence, three additional forms for ubiquitous systems have been proposed:
In his book The Rise of the Network Society , Manuel Castells suggests that there is an ongoing shift from already-decentralised, stand-alone microcomputers and mainframes towards entirely pervasive computing. In his model of a pervasive computing system, Castells uses the example of the Internet as the start of a pervasive computing system. The logical progression from that paradigm is a system where that networking logic becomes applicable in every realm of daily activity, in every location and every context. Castells envisages a system where billions of miniature, ubiquitous inter-communication devices will be spread worldwide, "like pigment in the wall paint".
Ubiquitous computing may be seen to consist of many layers, each with their own roles, which together form a single system:
Layer 1:task management layer
Layer 2:environment management layer
Layer 3:environment layer
Mark Weiser coined the phrase "ubiquitous computing" around 1988, during his tenure as Chief Technologist of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Both alone and with PARC Director and Chief Scientist John Seely Brown, Weiser wrote some of the earliest papers on the subject, largely defining it and sketching out its major concerns.
Recognizing that the extension of processing power into everyday scenarios would necessitate understandings of social, cultural and psychological phenomena beyond its proper ambit, Weiser was influenced by many fields outside computer science, including "philosophy, phenomenology, anthropology, psychology, post-Modernism, sociology of science and feminist criticism". He was explicit about "the humanistic origins of the 'invisible ideal in post-modernist thought'",referencing as well the ironically dystopian Philip K. Dick novel Ubik .
Andy Hopper from Cambridge University UK proposed and demonstrated the concept of "Teleporting" – where applications follow the user wherever he/she moves.
Roy Want, while a researcher and student working under Andy Hopper at Cambridge University, worked on the "Active Badge System", which is an advanced location computing system where personal mobility that is merged with computing.
Bill Schilit (now at Google) also did some earlier work in this topic, and participated in the early Mobile Computing workshop held in Santa Cruz in 1996.
Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo, Japan leads the Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory (UNL), Tokyo as well as the T-Engine Forum. The joint goal of Sakamura's Ubiquitous Networking specification and the T-Engine forum, is to enable any everyday device to broadcast and receive information.
MIT has also contributed significant research in this field, notably Things That Think consortium (directed by Hiroshi Ishii, Joseph A. Paradiso and Rosalind Picard) at the Media Laband the CSAIL effort known as Project Oxygen. Other major contributors include University of Washington's Ubicomp Lab (directed by Shwetak Patel), Georgia Tech's College of Computing, Cornell University's People Aware Computing Lab, NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, UC Irvine's Department of Informatics, Microsoft Research, Intel Research and Equator, Ajou University UCRi & CUS.
One of the earliest ubiquitous systems was artist Natalie Jeremijenko's "Live Wire", also known as "Dangling String", installed at Xerox PARC during Mark Weiser's time there. This was a piece of string attached to a stepper motor and controlled by a LAN connection; network activity caused the string to twitch, yielding a peripherally noticeable indication of traffic. Weiser called this an example of calm technology .
A present manifestation of this trend is the widespread diffusion of mobile phones. Many of mobile phones supporting high speed data transmission, video services, and mobile devices with powerful computational ability. Although these mobile devices are not necessarily manifestations of ubiquitous computing, there are examples, such as Japan's Yaoyorozu ("Eight Million Gods") Project in which mobile devices, coupled with radio frequency identification tags demonstrate that ubiquitous computing is already present in some form.
Ambient Devices has produced an "orb", a "dashboard", and a "weather beacon": these decorative devices receive data from a wireless network and report current events, such as stock prices and the weather, like the Nabaztag produced by Violet Snowden.
The Australian futurist Mark Pesce has produced a highly configurable 52-LED LAMP enabled lamp which uses Wi-Fi named MooresCloud after Moore's Law.
The Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation has launched a device called Ubi – The Ubiquitous Computer that is designed to allow voice interaction with the home and provide constant access to information.
Ubiquitous computing research has focused on building an environment in which computers allow humans to focus attention on select aspects of the environment and operate in supervisory and policy-making roles. Ubiquitous computing emphasizes the creation of a human computer interface that can interpret and support a user's intentions. For example, MIT's Project Oxygen seeks to create a system in which computation is as pervasive as air:
In the future, computation will be human centered. It will be freely available everywhere, like batteries and power sockets, or oxygen in the air we breathe...We will not need to carry our own devices around with us. Instead, configurable generic devices, either handheld or embedded in the environment, will bring computation to us, whenever we need it and wherever we might be. As we interact with these "anonymous" devices, they will adopt our information personalities. They will respect our desires for privacy and security. We won't have to type, click, or learn new computer jargon. Instead, we'll communicate naturally, using speech and gestures that describe our intent...
This is a fundamental transition that does not seek to escape the physical world and "enter some metallic, gigabyte-infested cyberspace" but rather brings computers and communications to us, making them "synonymous with the useful tasks they perform".
Network robots link ubiquitous networks with robots, contributing to the creation of new lifestyles and solutions to address a variety of social problems including the aging of population and nursing care.
Privacy is easily the most often-cited criticism of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp), and may be the greatest barrier to its long-term success.
An article by Linda Little and Pam Briggs on this privacy issue, states that: "These are the kinds of privacy principles that have been established by the industry – but over the past two years, we have been trying to understand whether such principles reflect the concerns of the ordinary citizen. Some of the key research questions we have been addressing are: What are users' key concerns regarding privacy management in a ubiquitous context and do they reflect 'expert' privacy principles? Do these concerns vary as a function of context? Will users have enough confidence in privacy management procedures to hand-over management and administration of their privacy preferences? Motahari, et al., (2007) argue people do not have a complete understanding of the threats to their privacy. While users of ubicomp systems are aware of inappropriate use of their personal information, legal obligations and inadequate security they are less aware of setting preferences for who has access and any social inferences that can be made by observations by other people. They further argue a holistic approach is needed as traditional approaches and current investigations are not enough to address privacy threats in ubiquitous computing. Recognising – in line with a number of other researchers (Harper & Singleton, 2001; Paine, et al., 2007) – that privacy concerns are likely to be highly situation-dependent, we have developed a method of enquiry which displays a rich context to the user in order to elicit more detailed information about those privacy factors that underpin our acceptance of ubiquitous computing".
Public policy problems are often "preceded by long shadows, long trains of activity", emerging slowly, over decades or even the course of a century. There is a need for a long-term view to guide policy decision making, as this will assist in identifying long-term problems or opportunities related to the ubiquitous computing environment. This information can reduce uncertainty and guide the decisions of both policy makers and those directly involved in system development (Wedemeyer et al. 2001). One important consideration is the degree to which different opinions form around a single problem. Some issues may have strong consensus about their importance, even if there are great differences in opinion regarding the cause or solution. For example, few people will differ in their assessment of a highly tangible problem with physical impact such as terrorists using new weapons of mass destruction to destroy human life. The problem statements outlined above that address the future evolution of the human species or challenges to identity have clear cultural or religious implications and are likely to have greater variance in opinion about them.
Context awareness is a property of mobile devices that is defined complementarily 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.
A mobile device is a computing device small enough to hold and operate in the hand. Typically, any handheld computer device will have an LCD or OLED flatscreen interface, providing a touchscreen interface with digital buttons and keyboard or physical buttons along with a physical keyboard. Many such devices can connect to the Internet and interconnect with other devices such as car entertainment systems or headsets via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks or near field communication (NFC). Integrated cameras, digital media players, the ability to place and receive telephone calls, video games, and Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities are common. Power is typically provided by a lithium battery. Mobile devices may run mobile operating systems that allow third-party apps specialized for said capabilities to be installed and run.
Calm technology or Calm design is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in the user's periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Information from the technology smoothly shifts to the user's attention when needed but otherwise stays calmly in the user's periphery. Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown describe calm technology as "that which informs but doesn't demand our focus or attention."
The concept of smart environments evolves from the definition of ubiquitous computing that, according to Mark Weiser, promotes the ideas of "a physical world that is richly and invisibly interwoven with sensors, actuators, displays, and computational elements, embedded seamlessly in the everyday objects of our lives, and connected through a continuous network."
Intelligent Environments (IE) are spaces with embedded systems and information and communication technologies creating interactive spaces that bring computation into the physical world and enhance occupants experiences. "Intelligent environments are spaces in which computation is seamlessly used to enhance ordinary activity. One of the driving forces behind the emerging interest in highly interactive environments is to make computers not only genuine user-friendly but also essentially invisible to the user".
Paul Dourish is a computer scientist best known for his work and research at the intersection of computer science and social science. Born in Scotland, he is a professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where he joined the faculty in 2000. He is a Fellow of the ACM, and winner of the CSCW 2016 "Lasting Impact" award. Dourish has published three books and over 100 scientific articles, and holds 19 US patents.
Context-aware computing refers to a general class of mobile systems that can sense their physical environment, and adapt their behavior accordingly.
A pervasive game is a video game where the gaming experience is extended out in the real world, or where the fictive world in which the game takes place blends with the physical world. The "It's Alive" mobile games company described pervasive games as "games that surround you", while Montola, Stenros and Waern's book, Pervasive Games defines them as having "one or more salient features that expand the contractual magic circle of play spatially, temporally, or socially." The concept of a "magic circle" draws from the work of Johan Huizinga, who describes the boundaries of play.
Ubiquitous robot is a term used in an analogous way to ubiquitous computing. Software useful for "integrating robotic technologies with technologies from the fields of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, sensor networks, and ambient intelligence".
Gregory Dominic Abowd is a computer scientist best known for his work in ubiquitous computing, software engineering, and technologies for autism. He is the J.Z. Liang Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he joined the faculty in 1994.
Anind Dey is a computer scientist. He is the Charles M. Geschke Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. On June 29, 2017, it was announced that he will become the new Dean of The Information School at the University of Washington. His research interests lie at the intersection of human–computer interaction and ubiquitous computing, focusing on how to make novel technologies more usable and useful. In particular, he builds tools that make it easier to build useful ubiquitous computing applications and supporting end users in controlling their ubiquitous computing systems.
Mobile interaction is the study of interaction between mobile users and computers. Mobile interaction is an aspect of human–computer interaction that emerged when computers became small enough to enable mobile usage, around the 1990s.
The Telecooperation Office (TECO) is a research group at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany. The research group is in the Institute of Telematics, and is attached to the Chair for Pervasive Computing Systems, currently held by Michael Beigl.
Pervasive informatics is the study of how information affects interactions with the built environments they occupy. The term and concept were initially introduced by Professor Kecheng Liu during a keynote speech at the SOLI 2008 international conference.
Albrecht Schmidt is a computer scientist best known for his work in ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, and the tangible user interface. He is a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where he joined the faculty in 2017.
Alice Jane Bernheim Brush is an American computer scientist known for her research in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing and computer supported collaborative work (CSCW). She is particularly known for her research studying and building technology for homes as well as expertise conducting field studies of technology. She is the Co-Chair of CRA-W from 2014-2017.
Urban informatics refers to the study of people creating, applying and using information and communication technology and data in the context of cities and urban environments. Various definitions are available, some provided in the Definitions section. Urban informatics is a trans-disciplinary field of research and practice that draws on three broad domains: people, place and technology.