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The computer for the 21st century


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The computer for the 21st century

  1. 1. IS 746 - ASSIGNMENT 1: The Computer for the 21st Century "Ubiquitous Computing" and“Comparing Advancements (in terms of software, hardware and network) in mobile computing today with the ideas of Mark Weiser in 1991” Fatih Özlü 1777762 Middle East Technical University 10 April, 2011 1
  2. 2. Ubiquity and Mark’s Ideas Compared to TodayAs people are starting to use the most common technologies just about anywhere, at any time,as a result they become as a part of our everyday life, though mostly we are not aware of thefact that any technology is accessible to us at shop, at home, at work, or even from your carvia mobile devices, pads, laptops or embedded systems. This phenomenon is named as“ubiquity”, as Mark Weiser mentioned about that this kind of ubiquity calculation wouldbecome a part of environment in the forms of live boards, pads, tabs, etc in different sizes andwith different abilities, in his article (Computer for the 21st Century, 1991).In addition, he gives example of engines that evolves and started to be used in many areas likefor locking and unlocking doors, cleaning the windshield, and so on. So these technologies arevery common and we are not aware of them where they are used until to think about them, indetail. The introduction sentence of the article reveals the main idea: “Specialized elements ofhardware and software, connected by wires, radio waves and infrared, will be so ubiquitousthat no one will notice their presence.”Mark supposes that ubiquities computers will be common to help people in all areas of the lifein different sizes, each assigned to a particular task. As he describes, in the “embodiedvirtuality”, tabs, pads and boards (yard size displays) participate at every part of the peoplelife like wall notes, clocks, thermostats, or even a small piece of paper. The smallest ones arethe tabs that will be used as pocket calculator or organizer that can make simple tasks ofpeople by keeping tracks of people. These components could interact with other mobilecomputers, so they can exchange information, for example by shrinking a window onto thetab. The other ones, Pads about in the size of papers, will become alternative to the windowsand will fulfill many more of paper’s functions. Boards which have large displays will serve alot with its screen for meetings, or other forms of collaborations for conference rooms andopen areas.Compared to today, many similar devices are being used in our everyday lives as Mark hasforeseen. IPods and IPhones or such mobile devices are very common, and people gotaccustomed to using them almost as the first necessity. In addition, examples of the boardscan be seen at many areas for advertising of show cards, or scoreboards at stadiums, etc. Sowhen thinking of these devices could interact between computers or other devices with manymessaging protocols via Bluetooth or infrared, Mark is said to be good at foreseeing. 2
  3. 3. In the article, Mark adds that “Prototype tabs, pads and boards are just the beginning ofubiquitous computing.” and specifies that the real power of the concept comes frominteraction of all of them. He takes attention to the fact that linking wired and wirelessnetworks has some obstacles like common communication protocols or efficient datatransmission rates.Although these issues are also important to be taken into consideration, the technology is asadvanced as Mark foresighted. The mobile networks are now more interoperated and datatransmission rate is fairly high, so as a result video telephone calls are even available bymobile phones.Another Mark’s prediction is about “micro-kernel” operating systems to perform specificfunctions can be added or removed without shutting down computers or mobile systems. Hethinks future operating systems based on this principle can shrink quickly “to fit the changingneeds of ubiquitous computation”.Such an approach to this kind of problem is also important for today’s systems and mostapplications have tendency to have a base platform to be developed, though they have notneed to be working mostly while adding a new functionality or removing. At now, mostsystems have these abilities.Last issue to be mentioned is about privacy, as considered in many information systemsapplications. Mark specifies that cryptographic techniques can be applied while sendingmessages one computer to another one to ensure private data is isolated from the public.Maybe, today’s the one of most important problems is privacy and to be ensured to safeguardprivate information. As Mark suggests his solution to this problem by cryptography, it is oneof the choices can be applied to provide a total private information guard.As a result, by looking over the article itself, it is not possible to believe that it is an articlewith ideas from 1991. Each detail and issue has been nearly implemented or used in the reallife, so it could be said that Mark had come up with exact practical ideas. 3
  4. 4. REFERENCES Mark Weiser, Palo Alto Research Center, Xerox, CA, USA, (September, 1991). The Computer for the 21st Century. 4