20. ubiquitous computing and augmented realities


Many researchers are beginning to explore the potential of ubiquitous computing technologies and applications in the home environment. Discuss how the application themes of context-awareness, automated capture and the continuous interaction of everyday computing is relevant to domestic life. Focus your answer on the challenges of family life or life for an aging population.

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Virtual reality has found a number of applications in the games market. Is this a suitable use of such technology? Discuss the possible benefits and disadvantages of exploiting leading-edge technology in a leisure market.


The leisure market is important to the computer industry and, being commercially lucrative, can provide an impetus for development which can then be exploited in other spheres.

If virtual reality takes off in games it will result in the development of cheaper equipment and more robust techniques, since the games customer tends to be young (and not overly rich) but with sophisticated expectations. Indeed, many research projects in universities are currently using equipment developed specifically for games, since the more powerful, general purpose equipment is prohibitively expensive.

Another possible advantage is that it makes the technology familiar and therefore accessible and acceptable.

A possible disadvantage is that the use of this technology in games may trivialize it so that it is not considered as a serious solution to other more weighty problems. However, this seems less likely than the advantages outlined above.



Data visualization techniques have often increased our comprehension of phenomena: consider the effect that 3D graphics has had on looking at complex models such as those of the atmosphere or the ocean, or in understanding the structure of molecules. What do you consider to be the areas that may benefit most from virtual reality visualization techniques?


This exercise could be expanded to allow students to carry out a brief literature review on the applications of virtual reality techniques. In general they are most promising in areas that cannot be explored in reality, either because it is physically impossible (such as in the manipulation of molecules discussed in Section 20.3.2) or physically dangerous, as in space. Models can be physically manipulated and interacted with using virtual reality methods rather than simply observed. Chemical and medical research, meteorology, oceanography, seismology are all areas that could benefit from such techniques.

Individual exercises

ex.20.1 (tut), ex.20.2 (ans), ex.20.3 (ans)