Ubiquitous computing has evolved from an abstract notion into something tangible that will affect us all in ways we cannot yet anticipate. It’s time we all accept its arrival as it changes the future as we know it today.
But what sets Ubicomp apart? Could it simply be its non-engineering approach and lack of new widgets and gadgets?
What is Ubiquitous Computing?
Mark Weiser introduced ubiquitous computing in 1988 as an approach to designing an ideal world filled with interconnected devices that constantly work behind-the-scenes to monitor our environment and make it smarter, providing people access to information at convenient times, improving communication between parties involved, leading healthier lifestyles, more precise advertising targeting, and easier financial transactions.
Ubiquitous computing draws from several fields, such as software engineering and hardware engineering, human-computer interaction and sensor networks. It integrates elements of mobile computing, location-aware technologies, wireless networking and sensor networks as well as contextually aware computing and artificial intelligence (AI).
Weiser foresaw that computers would become part of everyday life – from household tasks to office work – becoming invisible as devices interacted behind-the-scenes. His vision was vividly illustrated in Minority Report. Today, ubiquitous computing technology is making headway as wearable devices, internet of things devices, smart home systems and voice-activated assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple HomePod all become more prevalent.
As a research field, ubiquitous computing specializes in designing real systems to realize its ideas. There have been a wide array of prototype systems created through ubiquitous computing research – for instance the ambient room which featured sensors allowing users to interact with their environment directly.
The internet of things (IoT) has grown out of ubiquitous computing, though perhaps taking on a more general meaning than originally anticipated by Weiser. IoT devices essentially transform everyday objects into connected gadgets that need user configuration and interaction whereas Weiser’s version did not. Some scholars even argue that IoT may more closely resemble pervasive computing.
Examples of Ubiquitous Computing
Ubiquitous computing has multiple uses; from controlling household appliances and security devices such as lights, locks, thermostats and televisions in the home to monitoring medical data and providing support for patients. Ubiquitous computing also serves businesses by increasing productivity, improving scheduling/communication processes and customer service performance as well as inner security by providing identification devices for employees/guests/visitors while monitoring critical facilities.
Ubicomp is a technology platform based on pervasive computers that are constantly online and network connected, allowing people to connect to information at any time from any place in the world. Similar to personal computing and mobile telephony but offering additional capabilities such as location awareness, real time attributes and multi-to-many relationships compared to desktop computers; moreover it is more discreet and can work with any data format over networks.
One of the hallmarks of ubiquitous computing in healthcare information technology (HIT) is its adaptability. This feature enables it to rapidly respond to changing market conditions and offer the optimal user experience, such as smart phones, websites and apps that adapt themselves automatically to the environment around them. Smart services are also designed to work across a range of devices to provide maximum functionality.
Ubiquitous computing is an integral component of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices, and can also be utilized in healthcare to monitor patients at home, providing better service delivery while making our world safer overall.
Advantages of Ubiquitous Computing
Ubiquitous computing is an approach to incorporating computers into everyday environments. The technology relies on downsizing computing technologies to make them smaller and portable – this enables computers to be used in situations that were once prohibitive to their use.
Technology offers many benefits for individuals, businesses and society in general – from lower service costs and improved industrial scheduling and productivity to faster response times in health care settings, more targeted advertising messages and simplified personal financial transactions.
Pervasive computing offers another advantage in terms of security: this system can identify family, friends and strangers entering a home, notifying the homeowner immediately upon entry. Furthermore, this technology can monitor people’s movement throughout a premises to make informed decisions accordingly as well as track items stored safely away in warehouses for additional peace of mind.
Ubiquitous computing can also enhance medical treatment in rural areas by deploying sensors and networks in distant places, monitoring patient vital signs remotely, or being applied in education to allow students and professors to collaborate online classrooms.
Ubiquitous computing can also help create new business models. For instance, it can help build smart home systems to automate tasks – for instance an autonomous vehicle can recognize its authorized passenger using smartphone proximity recognition before docking and charging itself when needed, as well as handling toll, emergency response payments, fast food purchases or emergency responses efficiently through infrastructure interactions. These systems may also help analyze business trends to predict changes in demand or product quality.
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