PERVASIVE AND MOBILE COMPUTING

OVERVIEW
From the invention of Steam Engine to the invention of dynamo by James Watt and Werner Von Siemens respectively, and also remarkably taking the first power station into operation by Thomas A Edison [1], a massive change took place in the 19th century which brought about the generation, production and distribution of energy. The machines and engines were decentralized making the distribution of energy everywhere a possibility. This discovery led to several others like motor-cars, light bulbs and the rest of them. Although the technology behind these is irrelevant to most users, but then it brings about convenience and make life a lot easier which benefits the economy immensely.
After the industrialization transformation, another major transformation occurred which was Computers. “While industrialization enhanced the manpower with the help of machines, computer multiplied the mental capabilities of man”. Its application then varied from processing large information, creation and organisation of phone bills, payroll, and invoices. It was also used though with the help of mechanical machines to lift heavy amount of item e.g. steel

Figure 1.1. The computing evolution
From that point onwards, the computing industry began to grow, and its applications also widened to being used for air traffic control, in administration, and was also used for management systems in the process of “ensuring a static environment for employees”. Presently information technology has gone so broad that it surpassed the years of using the mainframe system where you have many users to a computer machine, and has since then gone even further to find its way into being an integral part of the telecommunication, entertainment, commerce and finally the finance industry in which nowadays, most organisation run their business online which is also called E-business. This type of computing is known as persuasive computing.
Pervasive computing which is also known as ubiquitous computing is an exciting and intriguing field of research that brings in exceptional changes for the computational models in the 21st century. It basically integrates the concept of computation into our daily lives as opposed to having computers standing on its own. The goal of pervasive computing varies from creating an invincible technology to integrating the physical and virtual world together [3].
“Tremendous development of wireless communications and networking, mobile computing and handheld devises, embedded systems, wearable computers, sensors, FRID tags, smart spaces, middleware, software agents, and the like, have let to the evolution of pervasive computing platforms as natural successor of mobile computing systems”[4].
The internet has ended up being the worlds largest medium of communication. It connects different people all over the world in their billions, share information, data, and application electronically. As discussed above, internet and e-business has now been the order of the day in the business community. “The rising number of internet accounts proves that within the next years will have the largest internet community”. The internet has contributed greatly to making the world a global market where you find customers comparing prices and purchasing items, employee can get access to business information from distant.
Due to the growing trend in computer technology and micro-controller getting smaller allowing them to be included into more and more devices, computer got smaller; the use of laptops became quite common and popular, the use of mobile phones with computing abilities became quite popular as well, examples are the apple iphone, android of google and it likes. The mobile phone with computing abilities is one of the recent developments in computer technology, its uses its wireless access to the internet to browse through information based system from basically anywhere in the world, which works just like a desktop or a laptop computer. Although not all application comes with the mobile phone sometimes, it is usually downloadable which therefore compliments for a poor computational capability, that’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise when there are mobile phone that can be wirelessly connected to the internet, edit photos and videos and print them.
2. Home systems
These are basically home appliances that are built around computer networks. As the decentralization of computing continues, computers has now become ubiquitous or omnipresent, it has the ability to be everywhere. Nowadays we have networked home which make use of a web server usually small in size but carries out several tasks. For example, an air conditional can be connected to a web server which manages its operations. Other examples are lights, washing machines e.t.c
Pervasive computing in homes can be subdivided into four sections which are
Information access devices
Intelligent Appliances
Smart controls
Entertainment systems [5].
2.1. Information access devices
An example of an information based device is the PDA
“A personal digital assistant (PDA) also known as a palmtop computer or personal data assistant is a mobile device usually pocketable that functions as a personal information manager.”[6]. It has an electronic display which enables it have a web browser, and can connect to any network. They function as “Personal Information Management (PIM)” that include and has got applications such as calendar, address book and can also send and return mails. Although the main function of PDA is to make and record appointments and carry phone numbers, it has now undergone rapid development in wireless communication and its now being used in medical facilities to provide mobile access to a patient’s data. Such is the influence of pervasive and mobile computing in our world today.
“In 1996, Nokia introduced the first mobile phone with full PDA functionality, the 9000 Communicator, which grew to become the world’s best-selling PDA” [7]. It brought about a new class of mobile phones: the “PDA phone”, now called “Smartphone”. Today, almost all PDAs are also known as smartphones
2.2. Intelligent appliances
As we continue exploration into the world of pervasive computing, its ubiquity can be seen even more. Intelligent appliances are another section under pervasive and mobile computing that has integrated into home appliances. Washing machine is a major example of such. It goes as far as being able to be connected to the internet, download new updates or request maintenance service.
Another example is the fire alarm system. As soon as it senses fire, sends out a distress signal to the fire co-operation in which further action can be taken. Another example is the security alarm systems which gets activated as soon as unauthorised entry is detected, sends out a distress signal as well to the police department, in which further action is also taken as well.
2.3. Smart controls
Smart control is another section under pervasive and mobile computing in homes. Some make use of wireless remote controls for stoves, gas pump e.t.c. and are usually all connected to a network. We also have cases where using a java application, can set a recording time for a video cassette recorder which will automatically start recording when its time.
Another example of smart control is the heating system in a house. Usually its has an alarm clock imbedded in it that automatically set in on when its the right time, and heats the room or water as the case may be.
2.4. Entertainment systems
“New kinds of entertainment systems will change the world of traditional broadcasting”. Set up boxes is the technology behind the growth and development of pervasive and mobile computing in home appliances. Interactive digital TV’s, video on demand, improvement in the quality of videos and audios are just one of the few examples of how entertainment is making use of pervasive and mobile technology.
Another example is the fire alarm system. As soon as it senses fire, sends out a distress signal to the fire co-operation in which further action can be taken. Another example is the security alarm systems which gets activated as soon as unauthorised entry is detected, sends out a distress signal as well to the police department, in which further action is also taken as well.
3. Electronic Healthcare System
The area of healthcare in the field of pervasive computing is a very exciting and promising section, “it encompasses a broad range of topics such as advanced hospital information and logistics systems, mobile health monitoring, assisted living for the elderly and the handicapped, and lifestyle and wellness related personal systems”.
“Pervasive health care system refer mostly to patient telemonitoring” (Hall et al,2003; Stanford, 2002). Telemonitoring is basically the way in which a patient’s psychological and physical features are being sensed and measured and recorded which provides information through wireless connection to the medical practitioner in real time or/and is transmitted to another location e.g. a medical center or a medical laboratory where other medical experts can work on it [8].
Moreso, with a sensor, a patient’s blood pressure, heart beat rate, blood level, respiration and temperature levels, e.t.c. can be measured.
The growth of Pervasive and mobile computing in the health sector is a very promising, the value it adds both socially and economically is enormous in the sense that it creates business opportunities for insurance organizations, telecommunication companies, e.t.c. Moreso, it brings about the hope of a quality medical services while being efficient and ubiquitous and at the same time cost effective.
The following are few applications of pervasive and mobile computing in the health-care environment.
3.1. Patient Monitoring
With the help of wireless network and private area network, patients who are recovering from an ailment but subject to other complications can be easily monitored anywhere and in case a relapse occur, the nearest hospitals, emergency services are notified automatically. This improves the performance of nurses and doctors, as the time they take to make rounds monitoring patients can be done with the help of pervasive and mobile computing.
3.2. Location based services
With the use of network sensors and radio-frequency ID badges, patients with mental challenged patients can easily be tracked if by any chance they leave a designated safe zone. With the help of location based services, people with matching blood types or want to donate an organ can easily be found. Voice-activated systems also act as an aid to blind people.
3.3. Access to medical data
With the help of pervasive computing, patients and medical personnel’s can have access to clinical records. This method is very easy as it reduce the stress of doing paper work, less time consuming and the chance of entering an incorrect data is reduced.
3.4. Health care mobile devices
These are mobile electronic device that can be used be used to detect certain medical conditions for example, blood pressure, heart rate, alcohol level, e.t.c. In future, such a device can have a wireless capability to contain the individual medical history and if he/she has adeficiency or suffering from a device, the device should be able to send out a signal or message to his/her G.P or a hospital as the case may be [9].
4. Sensors Networks
These are tiny, low cost, low power devices that sense some property e.g. motion, heat sound, light, pressure, e.t.c. and communicate with each other using wireless communication [10].
The wireless sensor is a very major aspect of pervasive computing because it allows computing to be part of the physical environment. It is called a wireless sensors network because many sensors can be spread across different places and can be networked in applications that require no attention producing what is known as a wireless sensor network (WSN).
They function in a peer to peer manner in the sense that they do not directly communicate the base station. Usually, “data collected by individual nodes is routed between the thousands of tiny sensors in a multihop manner until they reach the base station”. A base station is computing device that collects data from multiple sensors node and process them [11].
4.1. Application of a Wireless sensor network
The application of a WSN is countless; it varies from sensing properties like light, temperature, blood pressure, to being used in the military. Below are typical examples of WSN
4.1.1. Military applications
In the military, sensor nodes can be spread across the war zone so as to detect the presence of an enemy and also locate them. It can also be used to detect weapons e.g. chemical weapons, biological weapons and so on. Other applications under the military are target field imaging, security and tactical surveillance, intrusion detection.
4.1.2. Environmental application
A sensor node can be spread out in the air to monitor the temperature and from its result weather predictions can be made, climate monitoring, pollution tracking amongst many other.
4.1.3. Medical applications
The application can be mostly found in this section. The glucose machine to monitor diabetic patient makes use of a sensor, heart monitors. Basically, most medical equipment for monitoring patients makes use of a sensor system.
4.1.4. Urban applications
The application of WSN in our society is very clear and obvious, it can ne see in transportationand traffic system, automatic identification of drivers licence, street lights, home security, door alarm to mention a few
 
5. Ongoing research
“A number of leading technological organizations are exploring pervasive computing. Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), for example, has been working on pervasive computing applications since the 1980s. Although new technologies are emerging, the most crucial objective is not, necessarily, to develop new technologies. IBM’s project Planet Blue, for example, is largely focused on finding ways to integrate existing technologies with a wireless infrastructure. Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) is working on similar research in their Project Aura, whose stated goal is “to provide each user with an invisible halo of computing and information services that persists regardless of location.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a project called Oxygen. MIT named their project after that substance because they envision a future of ubiquitous computing devices as freely available and easily accessible as oxygen is today.”
Today the uses of Internet are limited as its users look for read-mostly information. As we move to a world where the Internet is used as an infrastructure for embedded computing, all this will change. We can hypothesize that the individual utility of mobile communication, wireless appliances and the respective mobile services – pervasive technologies in general – will be exploited through a digital environment that is –
aware of their presence
sensitive, adaptive and responsive to their needs, habits and emotions
and ubiquitously accessible via natural interaction.
Increasingly, many of the chips around us will sense their environment in rudimentary but effective ways. For Example –
· Cell phones will ask the landline phone what its telephone number is and will forward our calls to it.
· Remote computers will monitor our health statistics and will determine when one is in trouble and will take appropriate action for rescue.
· Amplifiers will be implanted and used in the inner ear.
· New machines that scan, probe, penetrate and enhance our bodies will be used.
· Refrigerators will be connected to the Internet so one could find out, via cell phone or PDA, what is in it while one is at the store. A refrigerator may even sense when it is low on milk and order more directly from the supplier or rather than this, the connection will enable the manufacturer to monitor the appliance directly to ensure that it is working correctly and inform the owner when it is not.
· Stoves will conspire with the refrigerators to decide what recipe makes the best use of the available ingredients, then guide us through preparation of the recipe with the aid of a network-connected food processor and blender. Or they will communicate to optimize the energy usage in our households.
· Cars will use the Internet to find an open parking space or the nearest vegetarian restaurant for their owners or to allow the manufacturer to diagnose problems before they happen, and either inform the owner of the needed service or automatically install the necessary (software) repair.
· Wrist watches will monitor our sugar.
· Digi-tickers or implanted heart monitors in heart patients will talk wirelessly to computers, which will be trained to keep an eye open for abnormalities.
In a nutshell, our personal network will travel around with us like a surrounding bubble, connecting to the environment through which we move and allowing our mobile tools to provide us with more functionality than they ever could alone.” [13]
6. Conclusion
Pervasive computing provides a very interesting vision for the future. Information would be basically handy through the help of the wireless technology, so instead of sitting on a PC to get information, we would have instant access through the use of our smart phones, our PDAs, e.t.c. As the growth in technology keeps increasing in the 21st century, it has basically influenced our daily lives, the way we communicate, shop, basically every aspect of it and enough evidence has it we are translating into the world of “pervasive computing” at a fast speed, and in few years time, the world would be living like a scene in the movie “Star Trek”.

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