A Primer of Ubiquitous Computing Challenges and Trends

A Primer of Ubiquitous Computing Challenges and Trends

Cristiano André da Costa (Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brazil), Jorge Luis Victoria Barbosa (Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brazil), Luciano Cavalheiro da Silva (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), Adenauer Corrêa Yamin (Universidade Católica de Pelotas, Brazil) and Cláudio Fernando Resin Geyer (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-843-2.ch015
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The growing availability of wireless networks and the proliferation of portable devices have made mobile computing a reality. Furthermore, the widespread use of location systems stimulates the creation of context-aware and adaptive systems. Ubiquitous computing integrates and extends these approaches through a new proposal where users’ applications are available in a suitable adapted form, wherever they go and however they move. In this scenario, issues related to development of software need to be tackled. This chapter reviews essential concepts of the ubiquitous computing area, its evolution, and challenges that must be managed. To deal with these issues, the authors describe the main requirements for the development of ubiquitous software. This analysis starts with the discussion of limitations in the use of traditional programming models, and then goes on to the proposition of techniques to address these limitations. The authors trust that this discussion can help the future development of ubiquitous applications.
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We should begin by defining ubiquitous computing (also called ubicomp). Mark Weiser created this term, so he is considered one of the area’s fathers. He presents computer ubiquity as the idea of integrating computers seamlessly, invisibly enhancing the real world. Weiser (1991) formulates a “new way of thinking about computers in the world, one that takes into account the natural human environment and allows the computers themselves to vanish into the background” (p. 94). Computers will vanish as a consequence of human psychology: when people use things without consciously thinking about them, they focus beyond. This is a phenomenon defined by some philosophers and psychologists (Weiser, 1991): people cease to be aware of something when they use it sufficiently well and frequently. Philosopher Heidegger calls this phenomenon ready-to-hand1 and Edmund Husserl calls it the horizon.2

Heidegger makes a phenomenological analysis of the way people deal with the world. According to him, our first behavior toward entities such as tools, devices, and systems within the world is one of use. These entities, viewed from their aspect of use, are called ready-to-hand. In “Being and Time”3, Heidegger (1996) affirms that

The peculiarity of what is proximally ready-to-hand is that, in its readiness-to-hand, it must, as it were, withdraw in order to be ready-to-hand quite authentically. That with which our everyday dealings proximally dwell is not the tools themselves. On the contrary, that with which we concern ourselves primarily is the work. (p. 99)

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