Mobile's Ultimate Business Context: Ubiquitous Computing Primer [CDO Guide to Mobile Part1]

Chief Digital Office Guide to Transforming with MobileUbiquitous Computing Primer reveals mobile’s ultimate business context and enables astute digital executives to create a whole new layer of value from their mobile investments. “Mobile” is far more important than launching smartphone and tablet apps because “smart” devices will interact with each other to provide a new level of capability and customer experience. This primer is a very brief treatment of a complex subject, so follow its links to drill down.

In 2013, smartphones and tablets imply that people are interacting with each other and “the Internet,” but “mobile” is becoming a “feature” of all kinds of devices and products in a phenomenon called “ubiquitous computing.”

Ubiquitous Computing Primer is Part1 of The CDO Guide to Mobile for Digital Transformation.

Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing refers to the fact that “computing” is in the process of morphing from specific device-based activities to environment-based interactions among people and devices. It uses a mobile network to enable “smart” devices to “collaborate” to serve people. For example, imagine that your “smartphone” interacts automatically with other devices such as your car, machines, appliances and ambient control systems according to your “preferences.” Now, when you customize your smartphone or laptop, you are configuring its environment. Ubiquitous computing fuses digital and physical worlds by extending the meaning of your control over your “environment.”

Smart Devices

Smart devices”communicate with you and other devices on the network. Their “smartness” is comprised of various sensors of the environment, motion and activity as well as their software and algorithms, which analyze sensor data and activate their controls. Sensors, algorithms and interactivity with other devices enable smart devices “learn” about people and activity, thereby improving their ability to “serve” people, groups and other machines. Think of them as “agents” that increasingly anticipate what you want to do and adjust themselves accordingly. As the cost of controls and software falls, all things will be on the network and interact proactively.

  • Your car “knows” who you are when you are within a short distance, so it adjusts the seat, mirror, climate control, music and other controls for you.
  • Ambient systems in your workspace, home and others automatically adjust themselves to your preferences as well as the temperature, light and time.
  • Office machines self-adjust to the use case based on who is in the room. This means workstations, digital whiteboards, lighting and technology services (projectors, websites, video input).
  • Kitchen appliances are more proactive in terms of alerting you to inventory levels (of food items), fresh items that are in danger of spoiling and cooking. Ovens recognize tagged food items, their physical temperature, you and anticipate how to cook.
  • Control systems know most people in the space and configure devices according to what kind of work those people do, what time of day it is, etc.
  • Industrial control systems have myriad uses.

Ubiquitous Computing Examples

Ubiquitous computing is emerging as a function of its optimal use cases, so its immediate relevance to firms varies. However, all CDOs will do well to approach “mobile” as an intense learning opportunity to understand how people use machines to be productive and enjoy themselves. Therefore, “mobile” offers a valuable R&D opportunity as well as an ability to serve users better right now. Here are some applications and examples:

  • Rental car companies’ “gold” service features cars that “know” members and adjust to them based on the identify broadcast from smartphones.
  • Smart medical devices monitor patient conditions, prompt patient actions and report real-time to physicians.
  • Smart HVAC systems operate as a function of external conditions, how many people are in the room and what time of day it is (its algorithms learn about activities based on smartphone activity, people’s movements in the room, time of day, day of the week, etc.
  • Airplane “environments” automatically adjust to passengers as a function of their preferences.
  • Home entertainment systems [ load options, games, movies and concerts as a function of who is in the room.
  • Workout devices at the gym or home automatically follow people’s progress and suggest workouts, configure themselves to body types, etc.

More Ubiquitous Computing Resources

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