PERVASIVE COMPUTING  

 

Pervasive computing (also called ubiquitous computing) is the growing trend towards embedding microprocessors everyday objects so they can communicate information.  The words pervasive and ubiquitous mean “existing everywhere.” Pervasive computing devices are completely connected and constantly available. 

 

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Pervasive computing relies on the convergence of wireless technologies, advanced electronics and the Internet. The goal of researchers working in pervasive computing is to create smart products that communicate unobtrusively. The products are connected to the Internet and the data they generate is easily available.  

 

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Privacy advocates are concerned about the “big brother is watching you” aspects of pervasive computing, but from a practical standpoint, most researchers feel it will improve efficiency. In a 1996 speech, Rick Belluzo, who was then executive VP and general manager of Hewlett-Packard, compared pervasive computing to electricity. He described it as being “the stage when we take computing for granted. We only notice its absence, rather than its presence.”
An example of a practical application of pervasive computing is the replacement of old electric meters with smart meters. In the past, electric meters had to be manually read by a company representative. Smart meters report usage in real-time over the Internet. They will also notify the power company when there is an outage, reset thermostats according to the homeowner’s directives, send messages to display units in the home and regulate the water heater.

 

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Computing is no longer a discrete activity bound to a desktop; network computing and mobile computing are fast becoming a part of everyday life and so is the Internet. Rather than being an infrastructure for computers and their users alone, it is now an infrastructure for everyone. We expect devices like PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), mobile phones, offices PCs and even home entertainment systems to access information and work together in one integrated system and the challenge is to combine these technologies into a seamless whole and on the Internet. The aim of Pervasive Computing is for computing available wherever it’s needed. 

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It spreads intelligence and connnectivity to more or less everything. So conceptually, ships, aircrafts, cars, bridges, tunnels, machines, refrigerators, door handles, lighting fixtures, shoes, hats, packaging clothing, tools, appliances, homes and even things like our coffee mugs and even the human body and will embedded with chips to connect to an infinite network of other devices and to create an environment where the connectivity of devices is embedded in such a way that it is unobtrusive and always available. Pervasive computing, therefore, refers to the emerging trend toward numerous, easily accessible computing devices connected to an increasingly ubiquitous network infrastructure.

 

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Pervasive computing aims to make our lives simpler through the use of tools that allow us to manage information easily. These “tools” are a new class of intelligent, portable devices that allow the user to plug into powerful networks and gain direct, simple, and secure access to both relevant information and services.

 

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Pervasive computing devices are not personal computers as we tend to think of them, but very tiny – even invisible – devices, either mobile or embedded in almost any type of object imaginable; all communicating through increasingly interconnected networks. Information instantly accessible anywhere and anytime is what Pervasive Computing is all about!

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