The availability of devices of very small size, with low energy consumption and low cost, often connected by wireless networks, allows a reversal of the paradigm of traditional computing: instead of sitting in front of a computer, people can be surrounded by a set of smart devices, often “​​invisible”, that support them in carrying out their activities. These devices cover a wide range, which extends from RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identifiers) to Data Loggers, to sensors with processing power and transmission, to modern smartphones and handheld devices. In their turn, the latter may be endowed with NFC (Near Field Communication) and GPS capabilities.


This phenomenon has led to the emergence of a new "vision" of computation, so-called "pervasive", which includes sensors and mobile devices (interconnected by one or more networks) able to react in a transparent way to users, current circumstances and changes in the operating environment.


Examples suggestive of pervasive applications can be: (a) the monitoring of geophysical phenomena, in which the geological and environmental parameters are continuously recorded by one or more wireless sensor networks, making it possible to collect and process statistical data, generate alarms, etc. ; (b) the continuous monitoring of the physical condition of a person with a BSN (Body Sensor Network) - something that may be of interest to elderly or sick people as well as athletes, for whom, in addition to the physiological parameters (blood pressure, heart rate, etc. ), it will be possible to track performance correlated to the specific situation (start of stroke, the tenth mile, etc.); (c) the case of intelligent networks that support private or public transport drivers in the everyday traffic, indicating preferential routes, obstacles and exceptional occurrences, and possibly allowing the exchange of information with other drivers or monitoring devices; (d) the distribution of "intelligence" in habitats (from the city to the individual building or apartment) in order to ensure safety, optimize the energy consumption, improving the response in the face of unforeseen events (eg. earthquakes), and in general ensure a better "quality of life".


This course presents students with the methodologies and technologies that provide the basis for pervasive computing, emphasizing, in the methodological line "ICT Management", the aspects related to the management of information and knowledge generated and used by those systems; in the line "Software Methodologies", the development of middleware and services; and, under the "Architectures" line, issues of system design from hardware architectures to the design of the system software required to build applications and services. All lines share both the cultural foundations of computer engineering and the necessary interdisciplinary aspects related to communication networks, modeling and information theory.

 

Contact Person: Prof. Fabio A. Schreiber

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