The IoT’s Impact on Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing refers to the existence of computers everywhere, i.e., the availability of computational technology throughout the physical environment. This has to be obtained while keeping the computation behind the physical object and making it invisible to the user. During the last two decades, technology has seen tremendous growth and witnessed the evolution of low-cost, powerful processing units, storage, and memory devices. This development has helped achieve the interconnection of physical entities in a cost-effective manner. Smart wearable devices, smart homes, smart cities, and intelligent industries all have become possible, due to the availability of low-cost computational units. But missing interoperability and collaboration, owing to a lack of standardization, forbids the seamless integration of all components. This current direction of the IoT still does not fulfill the characteristics of ubiquitous computing to the fullest. To achieve this, the IoT needs to adopt a standardized middleware protocol that enables peer-to-peer networking. The role of this middleware protocol should be to manage the large-scale IoT with heterogeneous devices and provide an API for an application protocol to develop autonomous applications that meet the user’s natural way of interaction with the physical environment. It should make the navigation of things in the system easy. We discuss some of the application domains of the IoT, which are efforts toward ubiquitous computing.

Application Domains of Ubiquitous Computing

These days, ubiquitous computing aims to interconnect every field of life. Already, it has brought great changes to people’s lifestyles. Ubiquitous computing is being used in various application domains such as health care, education, and smart cities that include smart homes, malls, hospitals, municipalities, etc. This section discusses some of the application domains.

Ubiquitous Computing in Health Care

One of the main application domains of ubiquitous computing is in the health care sector, which requires smart solutions to deal w'ith societal needs. These days, universal health care solutions are being implemented that provide health care services at any moment, anywhere. This universally available health care is gaining in popularity, due to the growth in health care expenses, aging populations, and rises in the rate of diseases such as heart failure, hypertension, obesity, etc. [30]. The ubiquitous computing approach empowers the monitoring of patient health and patient-related services, which intelligently respond to user needs, such as individual medical care assistance [31,32]. Ubiquitous health care applications may comprise systems for diagnosis, monitoring, and patient report details. In the past, the main focus for health care solutions was on the diagnosis of diseases and diagnosis-based treatment; a person used to contact a doctor only if they felt unwell [31]. These days, due to health care awareness, and the availability of ubiquitous health care devices, a regular health review has become more favorable in our day-to-day lives. Regular monitoring, early diagnosis, and chronic disease management are, first and foremost, essential for avoiding health complications and risks [33]. Recently, an internet-based framew'ork was proposed for skin cancer classification [34].

Ubiquitous computing in health care uses various environmental and patient- based sensors to monitor the physical and mental condition of the patient. Sensors collect data, to help diagnose the disease and monitor a patient. Sensors gather information about an individual, such as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, the chemical levels of blood and urine, breathing rate, and other activities that are needed to diagnose health problems. These sensors may be installed in a home or the patient’s workplace, implanted in the body, or used as a wearable [31].

Ubiquitous computing is being used for various purposes in the health care sector, as follows:

Ubiquitous Computing for Cardiac Patient Monitoring

The ubiquitous computing system for cardiac patient monitoring consists of mobile computing, sensors, and communications technologies [35]. Quality of life could be improved by caring for cardiac patients, regular monitoring, and personalizing patient care [35] Doctors primarily use ECGs for diagnostic and medication purposes. An ECG records heartbeats in a waveform graph. This form of electronic monitoring can help detect heart disease, determine a patient’s heart rate, monitor the regularity of heartbeats, and determine the size and position of the heart’s chambers, all critical areas of focus. Along with these features, an ECG also helps to assess the effects of drugs or specialized devices used for regulating the heart.

As a ubiquitous health care solution for individuals and patients, everyday ECG monitoring is provided on Android mobile devices. It has shown a significant impact on managing heart rates and has enhanced diagnostic capabilities [31]. Wireless technology and wearable sensors provide patients the freedom to be mobile, while being regularly monitored. The impact and usefulness of wearable monitoring devices are as follows [11,35]. In critical situations, they can identify early signs of an individual’s health deterioration and send alerts through SMS or another system to the health care professionals concerned. They can also identify correlations between a patient’s lifestyle and health problems.

Ubiquitous Computing for Cognitive Training and Assessment

Ubiquitous computing has entered into the area of mental health care, as well. Tools have been developed to track cognitive behavior, remotely execute cognitive assessment tests, and detect cognitive decline. Ubiquitous computing can also provide cognitive training and assess cognitive levels through the use of video games [32].

Ubiquitous Computing for Rehabilitation Assessment

Ubiquitous health care assessment for rehabilitation gathers data with the help of body sensor networks (BSNs). These wearable computing devices regularly record the motion data for a patient’s specific body part [36]. Ubiquitous health care measurements for rehabilitation help patients in self-management, who need regular rehabilitation at home [37]. The physiotherapist can fit a program of specific motions to each patient’s requirements and track the patients’ daily records [38].

Behavior and Lifestyle Analysis

Ubiquitous computing using wearable technology has come up for measuring and analyzing human physical activity, by collecting data from a wearable sensor [32]. In many cases, a person’s lifestyle analysis helps identify the root causes of disease.

Ubiquitous Computing in Education

The education industry is undergoing significant changes. Online and lifelong learners, and the need for new teaching and learning paradigms for educational institutions, are increasing the demand for ubiquitous computing technologies [39]. Teachers and students use ubiquitous computing for classroom teaching and learning, by utilizing technology and ubiquitous devices. Ubiquitous devices have become an integral part of education. “Ubiquitous” means that computational devices are distributed into the physical world, giving us boundless access to communication and information channels [40]. Network connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC provide wireless communication for different devices [30]. With the development of ubiquitous technology, new approaches to education are becoming popular in teaching and learning procedures. Students are getting the opportunity to gain access to information resources in a timeless and limitless way. In this regard, ubiquitous computing has significant advantages.

Ubiquitous Computing in Houses

Ubiquitous computing is integrated into smart houses to facilitate communications and functionality through the use of sensors [41]. The term “smart home" means a house surrounded by interconnected technologies that respond to the presence of individuals and perform actions. This technology provides an environment by integrating information, communication, and sensing technologies into objects used in our day-to-day lives. Ubiquitous computing for a smart home uses networked sensors, devices, and appliances to build an intelligent environment to automate various activities and support domestic tasks [42].

Ubiquitous Computing for Transportation

Ubiquitous computing is being used for mobility and transportation, where it offers various services to traffic management and users. It provides advantages to users, guiding them in navigation and informing them about transport flow. It has increased user safety, through accident prevention, and user comfort, by providing entertainment, location-dependent information, etc. It offers better networking among transport sectors [43].

Ubiquitous Computing in E-Commerce

Ubiquitous computing using smart objects allows for new business models to provide various digital services. Some examples are location-based services, and renting products rather than selling them. The software agents give a command to ubiquitous computing components for initiation and carry out services and business transactions independently [44]. Ubiquitous computing is producing a new way of doing business by automating the business world, such as the production process and e-commerce. This advancement speeds up the business process and results in manufacturer, supplier, and customer satisfaction [45]. The various business models using the Internet of Things could bring about positive changes for the economy [46].

Ubiquitous Computing in Environmental Control

Ubiquitous computing has been used for the measurement and control of the environment for a long time, where the measurement and control units of a greenhouse, for example, are divided into nodes that are connected to each other. More recently, it is being used for smart environmental control in smart cities for various purposes, such as smoke detection, air pollution detection, and displaying alert messages on screens [47].

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