Thursday 17 June 2021
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The idea that computers will be everywhere, yet nowhere is not new. It has been around since the 1990s. The concept was first coined by an American computer Scientist, Mark Weiser also known as the father of ubiquitous computing. Wieser stated that “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”. This disappearing act is a positive in that it illustrate how technology has seamlessly become an essential part of our everyday lives. These devices have simply become part of the process of living. We would miss them if they were gone – as anyone knows when they are separated from their smartphone – but when present, they are invisible because they have become part of us.
This article highlight the crucial role played by the Internet of Things in easing our lives and facilitating our engagements in this digital age. Additionally, we also outline the security risks.
The widespread penetration of mobile broadband, high mobile subscriptions and advancement of social networks present opportunities that enable individuals to influence attitude and behavioural change on a large scale. With its ability to influence behaviour change on a large group of people within a short period of time, mass persuasion has emerged as the new form of persuasion. In this study mass persuasion was used to create awareness on the importance of open data, opportunities and benefits it promises to offer. The availability of smart technologies will enable the creation of smart, innovative citizens led services, delivered in the most effective and efficient way.
Many researchers affirmed that ubiquitous computing has and will continue to drastically change how we apply computing and communication devices in our daily lives.
Ubiquitous computing has become a huge success, making it possible for smart objects to be everywhere. The abilities of these smart devices to gather data present an opportunity for citizens, not to only rely on government data but to collect their own data, which can be uploaded as open data on the portal, in order to be visualised and transformed into solutions. Up to date, numerous applications exist that capitalises on the power of persuasion to incentivise weight loss, assist users manage addiction and other health related problems.
Nevertheless, the ubiquitous nature of technology together with the connectedness of these devices has enabled this “things” as they are often referred to in the Internet of everything to be remotely accessed from anywhere and everywhere, which poses a security concern. This therefore, raises a need for better security mechanisms to protect data stored on these devices against undesirable access by hackers and other malicious people. Furthermore, these devices also poses to inflict the users’ privacy as they will be everywhere even in places where the user do not need them such as bathroom, bedroom and as invincible wearable.
Our mobile devices today are programmable and come with powerful embedded sensors, for example: GPS, accelerometer, Near field communication (NFC), digital compass, gyroscope, microphone, camera and many others. Allowing for the possibilities of applications that make use of personal and community based information to enhance decision-making and improve quality of life. These applications can be applied across multiple domains, such health, safety, social networks, transportation and environmental monitoring.
GPS is a worldwide satellite, space based radio-navigation system operated and managed by the US air force. GPS provides time and location information from anywhere, wherever you find yourself in the world. Although, initially developed to improve the US military force, today watches, mobile devices and many other gadgets are equipped with GPS sensors. It enables users and owners of these devices to easily locate places.
Another popular sensor in mobile phones is the accelerometer, initially developed to improve the user interface and the accurate use of camera. This is sensor is being used in many mobile devices to automatically determine the orientation of the screen between landscape and portrait. Thus help the phone distinguish up from down. Unlike the accelerometer, the digital compass based on the magnetometer sensor feeds the device with the orientation angle based on the Earth’s magnetic field. The gyroscope sensor aids the accelerator sensor by keeping track of the rotation of the device.
A new sensor in mobile devices is the NFC sensor, often found in many smart phones those manufactured after 2013. This radio communication based sensor, establishes communication between two devices by bringing them into proximity or touching them together. Like Bluetooth, NFC enable two devices to exchange contacts, images and make payments. However, payments can only be made at places where NFC support is available.
Today many mobile phones can be programmed, making it possible for developers to exploit and make use of these sensors. Widely spread platforms such as Android and iOS provide APIs, enabling developers, researchers and enthusiasts to explore the functionalities provided through these sensors. Some of these sensors explained in this section were used in the development of our best practice example mobile application.
However, as more technology comes of age, new ways of persuasion will emerge. We don’t exactly know how this will look like at this point but anticipate powerful interactive systems and self-tracking devices that will utilise data to personalise individuals by mashing up data into apps intended influence people’s lifestyles and help them meet their goals on the daily basis.
Lameck Mbangula Amugongo He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude), MSc. Computer Science & PhD Candidate

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