What is Ubiquitous (Pervasive) Computing

February 7, 2018 Author: virendra
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The world is witnessing the birth of a revolutionary computing paradigm that promises to have a profound effect on the way we interact with computers, devices, physical spaces, and other people. This new technology, called ubiquitous computing, envisions a world where embedded processors, computers, sensors, and digital communications are inexpensive commodities that are available everywhere. Ubiquitous computing will surround users with a comfortable and convenient information environment that merges physical and computational infrastructures into an integrated habitat.


The dissemination and use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) are considered to be the preconditions today for dynamic economic growth and future viability in global competition. At the same time, the processes of change triggered, enabled and accelerated by ICT are enormous. Ubiquitous computing is viewed less as a discrete field of technology, but rather as an emerging application of information and communications technology that is integrated into the everyday world more than ever before. The goal is to meet the claim of “everything, always, everywhere” for data processing and transmission through the ubiquity of ICT systems.

Ubiquitous computing is a paradigm in which the processing of information is linked with each activity or object as encountered. It involves connecting electronic devices, including embedding microprocessors to communicate information. Devices that use ubiquitous computing have constant availability and are completely connected. Ubiquitous computing focuses on learning by removing the complexity of computing and increases efficiency while using computing for different daily activities. Ubiquitous computing is also known as pervasive computing, every ware and ambient intelligence. Figure 1 shows the example of ubiquitous computing

ubiquitous computing example

Figure 1: Example of Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing is thus a complementary paradigm to virtual reality. Rather than reproduce and simulate the world with a computer, ubiquitous computing turns all objects in the real world into part of an information and communications system. Ubiquitous computing will drastically change the ways in which we use computers. As computers are integrated into everyday objects, they will no longer be perceived as such and their usage will recede largely from our conscious perception. In ubiquitous computing, a variety of processes run automatically in the background and interact on behalf of the user. The user does not have to provide explicit instructions or make decisions.

Application Area of Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing aims to permeate and interconnect all areas of life, and thus to enable a ubiquitous flow of data, information, and – by integrating cognitive capabilities in the future – even knowledge. With ubiquitous computing, many of these processes will recede into the background, and most will occur partially or wholly automatically. But this new form of ubiquitous computing will not develop uniformly and synchronously in all economic and social areas. Rather, applications will be defined and implemented at different speeds in different contexts. Nine application areas in which ubiquitous computing is already recognizable and is very likely to play a decisive role in the future are mentioned below:

  • Communications: as a cross-application, the communications area affects all forms of exchange and transmission of data, information, and knowledge. Communications thus represents a precondition for all information technology domains.
  • Logistics: tracking logistical goods along the entire transport chain of raw materials, semi-finished articles, and finished products (including their eventual disposal) closes the gap in IT control systems between the physical flow and the information flow. This offers opportunities for optimizing and automating logistics that are already apparent today.
  • Motor traffic: automobiles already contain several assistance systems that support the driver invisibly. Networking vehicles with each other and with surrounding telematics systems is anticipated for the future.
  • Military: the military sector requires the provision of information on averting and fighting external threats that is as close-meshed, multi-dimensional, and interrelated as possible. This comprises the collection and processing of information. It also includes the development of new weapons systems.
  • Production: in the smart factory, the flow and processing of components within manufacturing are controlled by the components and by the processing and transport stations themselves. Ubiquitous computing will facilitate a decentralized production system that will independently configure, control and monitor itself.
  • Smart homes: in smart homes, a large number of home technology devices such as heating, lighting, and ventilation and communication equipment become smart objects that automatically adjust to the needs of the residents.
  • E-commerce: the smart objects of ubiquitous computing allow for new business models with a variety of digital services to be implemented. These include location-based services, a shift from selling products to renting them, and software agents that will instruct components in ubiquitous computing to initiate and carry out services and business transactions independently.
  • Inner security: identification systems, such as electronic passport and the already abundant smart cards, are applications of ubiquitous computing in inner security. In the future, monitoring systems will become increasingly important – for instance, in protecting the environment or surveillance of key infrastructure such as airports and the power grid.
  • Medical technology: Increasingly autarkic, multi-functional, miniaturized and networked medical applications in ubiquitous computing offer a wide range of possibilities for monitoring the health of the ill and the elderly in their own homes, as well as for intelligent implants.

Identifying each application area’s potential and estimating when we can expect applications to be established is essential to a well-founded prognosis of ubiquitous computing development. Because any such assessment is based on various definitions of ubiquitous computing and depends on variable contexts.


[1] “Ubiquitous Computing”, available online at: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/22702/ubiquitous-computing

[2] Jaydip Sen, “Ubiquitous Computing: Potentials and Challenges”, Proceedings of the International Conference on Trends & Advances in Computation & Engineering (TRACE), 25-26 February 2010.

[3] John Krumm, “Ubiquitous Computing Fundamentals”, Microsoft Corporation, Chapman & Hall/CRC Press.

[4] “Ubiquitous Computing – Living in a Smart World”, available online at: http://www.thbs.com/blog/ubiquitous-computing-living-in-a-smart-world

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