Ubiquitous Computing (ubicomp)
The concept builds on top of the idea of Wearable computing (computing that’s more about the user than the device that the user carries) and extends across multiple devices such as cars, television and much more.
This paradigm is also described as pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, or “everyware”. Each term emphasizes slightly different aspects. When primarily concerning the objects involved, it is also known as physical computing, the Internet of Things, haptic computing, and “things that think”.
What is Ubiquitous Computing?
A new way of thinking about computers in the world, one that takes into account the natural human environment where computers will vanish into the background, weaving themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.
As an technology that is accessible to the user whenever and wherever they want or need it, Ubiquitous Computing aims at removing the barrier of an user thinking about what device to get to, to get to a certain service and making an experience that presents itself to the user wherever it makes sense.
People already have access to the technology at their fingertips, with Ubiquitous computing, in addition to allowing for usage across multiple device, we can assume the usage and work seamlessly across all of it.
These visions require interactive systems to become reactive, context-aware, ambient, and embedded in everyday activities.
- A domestic ubiquitous computing environment might interconnect lighting and environmental controls with personal bio metric monitors woven into clothing so that illumination and heating conditions in a room might be modulated, continuously and imperceptibly.
- Another common scenario posits refrigerators “aware” of their suitably tagged contents, able to both plan a variety of menus from the food actually on hand, and warn users of stale or spoiled food.
What developing for Ubiquitous Computing looks like?
Humans often use a bunch of technology in different ways simultaneously. The number of smart devices and the device density (no. of. devices used by a person, be it Smartphone, Laptops, Smart Home devices, Smart watches, TVs, Cars or anything else that has a chip inside it) is forever increasing.
“26 smart devices for every human … This explosion is manageable by having a strong core platform that lends it self to extensibility. Moving away from the idea of a new project for every new form factor and more into a versatile solution that could be extended for new form factors as they become available.
Let’s take a longer lens view, having a view into the service from each device (such as the wearables or the fridge or the car) that makes sense with the model and the controller present in the cloud.”
“Reaching the users in a undeniably useful way and build relationship with user across their life, across technology and be present in their life whenever it makes sense to the user.”
The user experience should be so simple and effortless, almost magical. Since most prefer simplicity and reliablity over quantity of features making sure never to get in the way of the solution. It should be so intutive and simple that it just makes sense.
Eg. Messaging app on wearables. Read the message and reply by voice.
Being contectual is really about being relevant, taking into account, the time, the location and even the activity the user is involved in to provide them with the most useful experience wherever they happens to be.
Eg. A shopping list that pops up as an user enters a supermarket and send a notification of anything they might have missed when exiting. This takes into account the context and provides information to the user before they have to ask.
The experience should be so fast that it feels immediate. The core experience is all about micro-interactions. The objective is not to distract and occupy the user. Provide the right information right away so that the user can keep living their life.
Eg. Voice Search on Smart TV. The User can search for what show they want to watch and any service that is set up for search can launch that content for them.
One question to think about while developing for Ubiquitous Computing is, “Where the users might want to use the service in the future? How can that be built into the core app now, that the overall user experience is in hand whenever and wherever it makes sense to the user.”
Eg. Listening to Music.
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubiquitous_computing
- Google I/O 2015 — Ubiquitous Computing with Google: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YFGN8vCYm4
- Stanford Lecture Notes: https://hci.stanford.edu/courses/cs376/2013/lectures/2013-04-03-ubicomp-intro/CS376-2013-intro-ubicomp.pdf
- Help Designing for various form factors: https://designsprintkit.withgoogle.com/