Introduction to Ubiquitous Computing

Introduction to Ubiquitous Computing

Max Mühlhäuser, Iryna Gurevych
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-87828-991-9.ch001
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The term ubiquitous computing was coined and introduced by the late Mark Weiser (1952-1999). He worked at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC, now an independent organization). PARC was more or less the birthplace of many developments that marked the PC era, such as the mouse, windows-based user interfaces, and the desktop metaphor (note that Xerox STAR preceded the Apple Lisa, which again preceded Microsoft Windows), laser printers, many concepts of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) and media spaces, and much more. This success is contributed (among other reasons) to the fact that PARC managed to integrate technology research and humanities research (computer science and “human factors” in particular) in a truly interdisciplinary way. This is important to bear in mind since a considerable number of publications argue that the difference between UC and Ambient Intelligence was the more technology/ networks-centered focus of the former and the more interdisciplinary nature of the latter that considered human and societal factors. We do not agree with this argument, in particular due to the nature of the original UC research at PARC—and the fact that quite a number of UC research labs worldwide try to follow the PARC mindset. Indeed, Mark Weiser concentrated so much on user aspects that quite a number of his first prototypes were mere mockups: during corresponding user studies, users had to imagine the technology side of the devices investigated and focus on use cases, ideal form factors and desired features, integration into a pretend intelligent environment, and so forth.

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