Definitions

Ubiquitous computing

Ubiquitous computing

Ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) is a post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. As opposed to the desktop paradigm, in which a single user consciously engages a single device for a specialized purpose, someone "using" ubiquitous computing engages many computational devices and systems simultaneously, in the course of ordinary activities, and may not necessarily even be aware that they are doing so.

This paradigm is also described as pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, or more recently, everyware. When primarily concerning the objects involved, it is also physical computing, the Internet of Things, haptic computing, and things that think.

Core concept

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 quotidian 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.

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 an ubicomp world. Contemporary devices that lend some support to this latter idea include mobile phones, digital audio players, radio-frequency identification tags, GPS, and interactive whiteboards.

To develop ubiquitous and pervasive applications, one should identify the most suitable interaction paradigm according to Gaber's classification for Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing

History

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 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.

MIT has also contributed significant research in this field, notably Hiroshi Ishii's Things That Think consortium at the Media Lab and the CSAIL effort known as Project Oxygen. Other major contributors include Georgia Tech's College of Computing, NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, UCIrvine's Department of Informatics, Microsoft Research, Intel Research and Equator, Ajou-University UCRi & CUS.

Examples

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.

More recently, 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. Another example is the Datafountain, an internet enabled water fountain used to display money currency rates, created by Koert van Mensvoort.

Current research

Ubiquitous computing encompasses a wide range of research topics, including distributed computing, mobile computing, sensor networks, human-computer interaction, and artificial intelligence.

See also

References

Resources and other external links

An introduction to the field appropriate for general audiences is Adam Greenfield's book Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing (ISBN 0-321-38401-6). Greenfield describes the interaction paradigm of ubiquitous computing as "information processing dissolving in behavior."

Notable conferences in the field include:

Academic journals and magazines devoted primarily to pervasive computing:

TIFAC CORE Velammal*

Mark Weiser's original material dating from his tenure at Xerox PARC:

Other links:

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