Ubiquitous Computing Research Spreads

Two major research facilities have joined efforts to strengthen the link among
Internet-enabled devices.

Researchers with electronics maker Fujitsu and the Palo Alto
Research Center (PARC) signed a multi-year, joint research agreement in
the field of ubiquitous (sometimes called pervasive) computing.

The idea is that almost any device (clothing, tools,
appliances, cars, homes, the human body and your coffee mug) can be
embedded with chips to connect it to an infinite network of
other devices.

The goal of ubiquitous computing is to create an
environment where those devices are embedded in such a way that the
connection to the greater Internet is unobtrusive and always available.
Researchers said they will combine the vast array of current network
technologies with wireless computing, voice recognition, Internet
capability and artificial intelligence into one architecture.

“Taking advantage of these strengths, we will be able to make our
cutting-edge technology concepts and visions a reality,” Mark Bernstein,
president and center director of PARC, said in a statement. “Beyond the
broad commercial potential, we are excited that working to support
Fujitsu’s international customer base will fuel new ideas about the
potential for PARC research.”

To complete their vision, Fujitsu and PARC said they will focus on a
“meta standard” interconnect technology that PARC calls “Obje”; it lets
devices interoperate over wired and wireless networks.

The researchers will also work on simpler and more secure wireless
networking, streamlined software architecture for interoperability,
better ad-hoc sensor network technology and advanced information
visualization technologies.

“Fujitsu has highly regarded PARC’s long-term research perspective
and its ability to create visionary concepts, such as ubiquitous
computing, that incorporate social science insights,” Takashi Aoki,
corporate vice president of Fujitsu, said in a statement.

The two groups said they will also incorporate social science to
create new business opportunities, both at the business-to-business and
business-to-customer levels. Plans to develop secure and simple
technologies are expected to involve several areas of research:

  • Safeguarding and securing personal information in global
    electronic health care systems.
  • Improving local disaster-response systems by making it possible for
    data networks to reorganize and locally adapt to changes.
  • Tying businesses and consumers together with a flow of personalized
    information services, thus opening the field of “ubiquitous customer
    relationship management.”
  • Networking intelligent transportation systems with a focus on
    standardization.

The trend toward ubiquitous computing is gaining in popularity, with
players like IBM , Microsoft , HP
, Intel , Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems all taking active
roles.

The Fujitsu and PARC partnership extends beyond 2010 and will use
resources from their collective R&D labs. The companies said they expect the first round of results
as early as 2006.

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