St Andrews HCI Research Group


Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) or Pervasive Computing is a model of computing in which computation is everywhere and computer functions are integrated into everything. Ubicomp will be built around the basic objects, environments and the activities of our everyday lives in such a way that no one will notice its presence. Such a model of computation will “weave itself into the fabric of our lives, until it is indistinguishable from it”. Everyday objects will be places for sensing, input, processing along with output to people. Ubicomp aims to make information, applications and services available anywhere and at anytime in the human environment, where they are useful. Keeping with Weiser’s original vision of keeping technologies unnoticed, a further aim is to have all this delivered in a fluid manner appropriate to our current context.
In SACHI we are exploring mobile and embedded devices in almost every type of physical artefact including cars, toys, tools, homes, appliances, clothing and work surfaces. Indeed, anywhere computation will aid someone in solving a problem or performing a task in-situ, ubicomp can be viewed as the model of computation. It’s important to understand that ubicomp represents an evolution from the notion of a computer as a single device, to the notion of a computing space comprising personal and peripheral computing elements and services all connected and communicating as required. This means your latest PC, game console, Tablet, iPad, iPhone or Android phone alone are not a ubicomp systems but instead may form elements of future Ubicomp systems, services and technologies.
The eventual goal is to have “processing power so distributed throughout the environment that computers per se effectively disappear”. Indeed, powerful computers are already power many of the objects, services and devices we use in our day to day life. However, these computers are often islands of computation and do not yet offer us a unified computing space. The advent of Ubicomp scenarios and technologies doesn’t mean the demise of the desktop computer in the near future. Personal computing took decades to advance and we can expect the same gradual evolution in ubicomp technology, scenarios of use and adoption by people.
The ACM has published an excellent Annotated Bibliography on mobility related to UbiComp which you can find here. This notes the UbiComp Fundamentals book which Aaron contributed to.