Ubiquitous Computing Definition & Meaning

Ubiquitous computing refers to computer networking and intelligence shared across many devices, including phones, sensors, and household systems. Mark Weiser introduced the theory in 1988, proposing that technology would work its way into ordinary life processes until they became nearly unnoticed. As computing becomes more pervasive and intelligent, it seamlessly integrates into our everyday activity (such as driving or turning on lights) – exactly as Weiser predicted.

Ubiquitous computing includes:

  • Fitness devices that make recommendations based on real-time physical data
  • Virtual computing assistants (such as Siri and Alexa) that answer questions, connect to home devices, and perform small tasks upon request
  • Vehicles that alert drivers to driving inconsistencies (even something as small as veering over the lane line)
  • Intelligent home systems that provide security, connect to lights and air conditioning, and play music through different devices

Benefits and concerns of ubiquitous computing

As devices intake enormous amounts of data and learn to better process them, they become more intelligent. Complex data processes become more scalable and flexible, until they’re distilled to simple actions on a Bluetooth device or tiny sensor. Artificial intelligence improves the seamless, smart nature of ubiquitous computing: devices learn to advise their users, complete tasks without being asked, and track preferences and habits.

Excessive data collection continues to concern many, however. With the benefit of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence comes privacy concerns and hesitation regarding how much our computers know about us and how that data could be misused.

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