What is ubiquitous computing, part 1

What is ubiquitous computing?

Since I have to work on that topic currently, I thought I will write a blog post series, letting you explore the topic with me. Wikipedia describes ubiquitous computing “as a post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities”[1]. If you look up the word ubiquitous itself in a dictionary it explains is is an adjective meaning existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent. Examples are f.e. ubiquitous fog or ubiquitous little ants[2].

Now, Apple and Samsung claims we are in the post-desctop area, hence we also have post-desctop HCI without doubt. So, is ubiquitous computing the current reality? If you look at the verb of ubiquitous, and more clearly, what ubiquitous computing conferences talk about, we will se, the vision of ubiquitous computing is not yet reality. Ubiquitous computing means the immanent interaction with computers we do not even see, everywhere around us. We have information everywhere and without interruption. This vision is still science fiction to us, and you might grasp the idea of ubiquitous computing in movies like minority report or ghost in the shell, where a smart phone does not even exit anymore.

The next question is, is then f.e. google project glass already ubiquitous computing? I would claim no. As smartphones and tablets, this project brings the vision of ubiquitous computing nearer. However, for real ubiquitous computing at least more geo located information for static objects (ok, we might have that partially) but also geo located information for moving objects (maybe with RFID or similar) and ambient intelligence needs to be part of a fused system, which interacts with you all to time, without interrupting you, to really be ubiquitous. So far a google glass which would display the name of a person with image recognition because of his facebook images would fit well to ubiquitous computing.

Now, we already found in the article that probably a lot of research buzz words have to do with ubiquitous computing. And yes, the internet of things, ambient intelligence, smart cities, haptic computing, physical computing all belong to the vision or are integral parts of ubiquitous computing. Ah, and beside the terms which make up parts of the vision there is one term which is kind of synonym: pervasive computing.

More on what pervasive computing means, and a bit more of analysis of the current research community comes in the next blog post.

[1]Wikipedia: Ubiquitous computing

[2]Dictionary: ubiquitous

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