What are Some Examples of Ubiquitous Computing and Convergence?

Explain Ubiquitous Computing and Convergence

Computers have become so commonplace that sometimes the technology isn’t recognized as being a computer. Ubiquitous computing (ubicomp), also referred to as invisible computing, means technology recedes into the background. The technology actually becomes part of the environment. Digital signage is replacing traditional billboards, you can pay for gas with the wave of a credit card, and you can upload pictures to Facebook from your mobile phone. Smart homes in which the lights, climate, security, and entertainment are automated are examples of ubiquitous computing.

Embedded Computers

Embedded computers are present at gasoline pumps, in home appliances, traffic lights, and selfcheckout lines at supermarkets. Computer chips can monitor your vital signs and calories burned when exercising, regulate the flow of gas in your car, and regulate the temperature of water in your dishwasher. Embedded computers make modern lives and easier. These specialized computers have become so common that it would be hard to imagine living without them (Figure below).

Figure Embedded computers can be found in many objects encountered every day, such as this washing machine.
Figure Embedded computers can be found in many objects encountered every day, such as this washing machine.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of the physical world to the Internet. Objects are tagged and can be located, monitored, and controlled using small, embedded electronics. Some examples of ubiquitous IoT devices you may already use include fitness and health trackers, another examples is smart thermostats, and monitors for babies or the elderly. These devices have existed for sometime, but adding the IoT features means they can be monitored and controlled remotely via a web browser or mobile app. The Internet of Things Consortium is an organization of companies driving the IoT revolution. You can visit their website iofthings.org to learn about the latest development in IoT.


The convergence, or integration, of technology on multifunction devices, such as smartphones, has accustomed us to carrying technology with us. You no longer need to carry around several different devices because convergence devices now incorporate cell phones, personal information management tools, email, web browsing, document editing, MP3 players, cameras, GPS, games, and more (Figure below).

Figure convergence: The Convergence of Technology on a Smartphone
Figure convergence: The Convergence of Technology on a Smartphone

In some parts of the world, there are more mobile phones than people, and this has resulted in the rapid development of technologies such as mobile payment systems. In what many cases, mobile phones have replaced personal computers. As we rely more and more on technology, we expect it to work. We take for granted that traffic light timing will protect us, the GPS will guide us to our destination, and the ATM will dispense our funds only to us. Ubiquitous computing is only in its infancy, and it is already an integral part of our ubiquitous lives. It will be interesting to see where ubicomp takes us in the not too distant future.

Ethics The Internet of Things

IoT may make modern life more convenient and comfortable, but at the cost of some of your privacy. Retailers can track you in their stores by the location of your cell phone, noticing what aisles you visit and avoid, helping plan the store layout and targeted advertising presented to you. Personal health trackers record your vital statistics, and promise not to share your personal information. The built in camera on your Smart TV that enables you to use Skype or play interactive content, can be used to record your actions and audio, even when you are not using it. And all Internet connected devices yes even your refrigerator are potential hacker targets. Is the potential loss of what privacy worth the convenience of the ubiquitous technology?

4 Things You Need to Know

  • Ubiquitous computing is technology that’s invisible to us.
  • Embedded computers are found in everything from traffic lights to dishwashers.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) connects the physical world to the Internet.
  • The convergence of technology allows us to carry a single multifunction device that can do the job of many separate devices.

Key Terms

  • bioinformatics
  • convergence
  • embedded computer
  • green computing
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • smart appliance
  • smart grid
  • smart home
  • ubiquitous computing (ubicomp)