Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

coined the term “ubiquitous computing”, referring to omnipresent computers that serve people in their everyday lives at home and at work, functioning invisibly and unobtrusively in the background and freeing people to a large extent from tedious routine tasks. The general working definition of ubiquitous computing technology is any computing technology that permits human interaction away from a single workstation. This includes pen-based technology, hand-held or portable devices, large-scale interactive screens, wireless networking infrastructure, and voice or vision technology (Abowd 2004).
In its ultimate form, ubiquitous computing means any computing device, while moving with you, can build incrementally dynamic models of its various environment and configure its services accordingly. The devices will be able to either “remember” past environments they operated in, or proactively build up services in new environments (Lyytinen and Yoo 2002). In its 1999 vision statement, the European Union’s Information Society Technologies Program Advisory Group (ISTAG) used the term “ambient intelligence” in a similar fashion to describe a vision where “people will be surrounded by intelligent and intuitive interfaces embedded in everyday objects around us and an environment recognizing and responding to the presence of individuals in an invisible way” (Ahola 2001).
One of the most significant challenges in AmI/pervasive computing technologies is to create user-friendly interfaces. Developing interfaces for ubiquitous computing is a rather new field. A number of the technologies initially developed actually increased inefficiencies in the way users learned or worked. Human computer interaction designers are still struggling to establish usable standards for these technologies (Bohn et al. 2004, Davis 2002).

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