Ubiquitous computing

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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. In the course of ordinary activities, someone "using" ubiquitous computing engages many computational devices and systems simultaneously, and may not necessarily even be aware that they are doing so. This model is usually considered an advancement from the desktop paradigm. More formally Ubiquitous computing is defined as "machines that fit the human environment instead of forcing humans to enter theirs."[1]

This paradigm is also described as pervasive computing, ambient intelligence.[2], where each term emphasizes slightly different aspects. When primarily concerning the objects involved, it is also physical computing, the Internet of Things, haptic computing,[3] 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.[4]

Contents

Core concept

At their core, all models of ubiquitous computing (also called pervasive 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 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.

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