concepts and models for ubiquitous computing

workshop @ ubicomp 2002 - göteborg - 29 sept 2002      <@ubicomp2002>

Tom Rodden, Alan Dix, Gregory Abowd      <@tom, @alan, @gregory>

what? why? who?


Ubicomp has produced many innovative exciting systems and applications alongside broad visionary viewpoints. However, the middle ground between the two is less well populated. More generic design-focused concepts and models will become essential as ubicomp moves from an exploratory research area to being the normal pattern of human­computer interaction.


This workshop was aimed at those interested in developing the fundamental principles that will drive the future design and implementation of ubiquitous systems. This includes:

  • models of device characteristics
  • models of design and development of ubiquitous computing
  • models of composition spanning both hardware and software elements , issues of discovery and intelligibility.
  • high level architectures ­ in the graphical user interface literature the Seeheim UIMS model and MVC model have been formative both in the design of toolkits and development frameworks and also in shaping the conceptual (similar to MVC in GUI
  • conceptual models of ubicomp systems/applications ­ models like Seeheim have dual implementation/conceptual basis, furthermore, it is not even clear what comprises the ‘application’ within ubicomp
  • paradigms and metaphors for users/designers thinking about ubicomp (like DM for GUI)
  • appropriate cognitive and task models for ubicomp
  • understanding the models users have of ubiquitous 'applications'

The breadth of scope is based on experience within the user-interface community where there is a considerable overlap between conceptual understanding and architectural models of interaction.


The workshop focused on the joint development of a common broad framework and set of principles that emerge from the experience of each of the participants. The broad structure of the day was:

early morning: participants present their view of the key issues
late morning: break out groups tackle selected issues
early afternoon: groups report back
late afternoon: working together towards a common broad framework


The experimental systems designed today are unlikely to be those used in 5-10 years time or beyond, but the lessons they teach us will be of enduring value. This workshop will be the first of an ongoing series of international workshops aimed at making these generic lessons explicit.

The position papers of the participants are available on the workshop web pages <@papers> and the organsisers will produce a summary after the event. Participants will also be encouraged to write reports of the workshop in the appropriate newsletters or magazines of their respective communities.

The organisers are currently seeking to organise a special issue on this topic in an appropriate journal. Selected participants will be encourage to submit extended versions of positions papers for any special issue.


see the position papers and some presentation slides <@papers>.



ubicomp is about ... systems .... systems ... systems ...

... but do we understand them?


is center of the uk equator collaboration on the integration of digital and physical life - tom
has long hair and a beard and sometimes can't tell dreams from reality - alan
turns digital dreams into physical reality - gregory
(n.b. comments by alan)