Mobile commerce is a special area of electronic commerce that utilizes mobile wireless devices to conduct commercial transactions. Unique features of these devices include their mobility, personalization, and location-awareness. These features play a very significant role in enabling a novel class of emerging applications that take advantage of recent advances in pervasive computing. The paradigm of pervasive computing environment was first introduced by Mark Weiser in the early 1990s who postulated the anytime anyplace availability of computing and information services that are enabled by miniature devices and sensors seamlessly and unobtrusively embedded in the surrounding environment. Although this vision has not been realized in its literal sense, today mobile and smart phones are commonly viewed as an enabler of a human interface to the surrounding computing and information environment. As an application area where many principles of pervasive computing have been successfully implemented, mobile commerce has reaped significant benefits from the recent scientific and technological advances. This chapter discusses a number of pervasive computing principles and illustrates how they have been implemented in mobile commerce applications. The chapter also presents some new trends in developing context aware m-commerce services that tap into the power of Web 2.0 services and digital communities.
The paradigm of pervasive computing indicates that as technology advances, computing devices will become smaller but more powerful, which would allow these devices to be ubiquitously and invisibly integrated into our everyday surroundings providing an anyplace anytime access to a computing environment. In the early 1990s, Mark Weiser (1991, 1993) described an early prototype of such an environment comprised of three classes of devices: tabs, pads and boards, each of which were designed after the corresponding office instruments. Tabs, similar to Post-It notes, were small location-aware devices with a pressure sensitive screen for writing short notes. Much like today’s tablet PCs, pads were wireless pen-based notebooks. Boards were large wall-sized interactive surfaces, functionally similar to office whiteboards. Development of these devices did not progress beyond research prototypes at the Xerox PARC labs. However, this project generated much interest in research and industry due to the impact this paradigm could make on the way how humans interact with technology.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mobile Phone: A mobile device used for voice communication that uses a cellular network.
Mobile commerce: A special area of electronic commerce that utilizes mobile wireless devices to conduct commercial transactions.
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification): An automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using RFID tags or transponders.
Pervasive Computing: A model of human-computer interaction in which information processing is seamlessly integrated into everyday objects and activities allowing the user to concentrate on the specific task rather than on details of interacting with the system.
Smart Phone: A mobile phone that offers advanced capabilities that combine those of a typical mobile phone with PC-like functionalities.
Context: Any information characterizing the situation of a person, a place, or an object that is relevant to the interaction between the computing system and its user.
Context Awareness: A property of a computing system that can adapt its behavior to the current context without any explicit user intervention.
Mobile Device: A pocket-sized computing device that typically has a small screen for user output and a miniature keyboard or touch screen for user input.