Challenges and Issues Associated with Ubiquitous Computing

Modern information and communication technologies (ICT) usage has become essential for economic growth in the global market. With the development and large- scale implementation of mobile telephone and internet technology, the economy, science, and private life all have witnessed enormous changes. Every evolving day, these objects transform in size and capability. The availability of smart devices and their interconnection throughout has influenced the economic and social perspective remarkably. But a few' factors can directly or indirectly influence the growth of ubiquitous computing. These can be identified as:

  • 1. Network dynamics: Nodes in the network can connect and depart at any time. The lack of a centralized system and the absence of fixed infrastructure create challenges for the self-configuration of the network.
  • 2. Node behavior: The size of the communication network is significant, and a vast number of nodes are connected, in general. The nodes’ behavior can be unpredictable, because some nodes can act maliciously or randomly. This type of behavior creates challenges for management and trust computation modules.
  • 3. Availability and resource constraint: In general, resources are constrained. While nodes may be included in the network at any time, the resources needed to support them may not be available. Also, the nodes of the system are heterogeneous in terms of their capabilities, measured as their processing power, battery life, and communication capabilities. Due to the resource constraints, handling or managing the resource assignment of the device for complex computations is a challenge.
  • 4. Data protection and authentication: Most smart devices today provide a locking mechanism, which prevents unauthorized access. But users who own more than one such connected device often keep the same password or store the password on the device itself, which poses a challenge for authentication/ security units.
  • 5. Standardization: One significant challenge in the implementation of ubiquitous computing is the lack of standardization. Every device connected to the network may belong to a different company. Each follows its own protocols and device standards. Interfacing such units is challenging.
  • 6. Change in the user’s context: The user interfaces for ubiquitous computing are very different from traditional interfaces. Frequent changes in user requirements involve periodic shifts in interface dynamics that may be difficult to execute. Again, this user’s context change is a challenge for interface designers.

Fundamentals of the Internet of Things

The phrase “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 [6]. It refers to the increasing connection of the physical world to the internet. The IoT is defined as a vast interconnection of devices connected through the internet [7]. These devices use sensors or technologies based on embedding, to sense and gather information from their environment and surroundings. These captured data are shared among the devices connected to the network. To leverage the unknown knowledge collected from the environment, these shared data are analyzed and correlated before being used by the devices to make more intelligent decisions. Undoubtedly, it can be said that the IoT has taken the internet to the next level of processing and extended it to physical devices. The IoT in the present scenario is not only a scientific or technical branch but extends beyond that to become a social phenomenon, a cultural product, and an industrial specialty.

The supportive components and the environment around the IoT form a system. The major components of the IoT system are the things, the data, the process, and the people. It is expected that all these four components work in unison to achieve the desired connected world. Figure 1.2 represents the IoT system, the parts of which can be described as:

• Things: Things are devices connected to the network of things. These devices are capable of communicating with each other by using Bluetooth or Zigbee communication protocols. Apart from communicating, these devices can also collect data and perform operations. Data collection can be carried out using the sensing capability of the things involved, due to sensors embedded within them, or, in some cases, using images captured by the camera. It can also perform tasks related to data transfer and processing.

Components of the IoT system

FIGURE 1.2 Components of the IoT system.

  • • Data: Data in the IoT system refers to the content communicated among the things. It also refers to the commands that are passed on to the things. Since a multitude of things participate in the network, the data collection is enormous. These collected data have to be cleaned and checked for errors before being utilized by any process. These tasks can be performed at the edge of the network or on the central server, i.e., the cloud.
  • • Processes: The power of the IoT can be utilized to make the techniques and methods used by industries more efficient by correctly processing data to obtain the right information at the right time. At this stage, one can realize the benefits of the IoT and its intelligence.
  • • People: In the IoT ecosystem, people are the beneficiaries of and agents who work for the IoT. People create the network of things, and whatever the data collected and communicated may be. it is for people.

Enabling Technologies of the IoT

As Daniele Miorandi et al. [8] discuss in their work, anything uniquely identifiable that can communicate and perform necessary computations can be used for the IoT network. According to them, the sensing or actuation capability is optional. Over the years, dependency on IoT systems has increased, and with technological advancements and reduced cost, they have become affordable. The enabling technology behind the IoT is indispensable [9]. Some of the enabling technologies are outlined here.

  • 1. Unique identification technique: A large number of nodes interconnect to form the IoT.
  • 2. The capability of each node to generate data: There should be unique identification attached to each thing to resolve any ambiguity. The universally unique identifier (UUID) developed by the Open Source Foundation (OSF) is one of the standards used to provide uniqueness.
  • 3. Sensing technology: Sensing is pivotal in accessing data. In the past few years, with significant progress in technology, sensors have become cheaper and are easily installed in huge numbers. Sensors have enabled the acquisition of data at a swift pace. Processes can further utilize these data to make intelligent decisions.
  • 4. Communication technology: Some communication technology is needed to support the interconnection of nodes and communication among smart devices. These communication technologies can be long-range or short-range. Long- range communication usually supports mobile calls, etc. Bluetooth. Wi-Fi, and Zigbee are short-range communication technologies, which usually support node-to-node data transmission.
  • 5. Cloud computing: The IoT network collects an enormous amount of data. These data are heterogeneous and differ in format, size, layout, etc. Aggregation and processing are required to further utilize this data for decision making. Handling this massive quantity of information is a challenge. Cloud computing provides a centralized storage and processing aspect to the IoT, where data can be aggregated, processed, and stored for further access.

6. Service-oriented architecture (SOA): The number of tiny units in the IoT network is vast. This networked system requires the interoperability of each node. SOA considers each device as an individual device, with clearly defined functionality, accessible through interfaces. These interfaces can easily be reconfigured, depending upon other neighboring units and their functionality.

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