Mobile computing has grown leaps in bounds in the last two years, and now accounts for about 15% of all internet traffic, up from 10% in 2012 and 6% in 2011. While such growth is expected to continue to be exponential, there are significant challenges to overcome before mobile computing takes a paradigm shift to the next level, to facilitate pervasive computing.
Pervasive Computing entails connecting more or less anything, from refrigerators to washing machines and from vehicles to shoes. Embedded chips powered by mobile computing, would allow users to control such devices from anywhere, at any time. This has already manifested itself in many fronts, a high-profile case being that of inexpensive, remote-controlled aircraft, a.k.a. drones, already in widespread use for surveillance, surveys, search-and-rescue operations, entertainment, pizza deliveries and bombing the bad-guys to death!
Taking mobile computing systems to the next level that facilitates seamless pervasive computing at a universal level requires a massive upgrade of the existing infrastructure. Pervasive computing requires robust networking infrastructure in terms of gigabit bandwidth backbones, unlimited power, high-speed relays, and massive recharging capabilities. Much of the present systems are creaking at its seams, and operating in degraded network, power, or computing environments.
Even existing mobile computing, for day-to-day internet use, very often suffers from degraded performance that causes priority inversion, or the loss or delay of important information over frequent, unimportant messages, breakdown of network links, dropped calls, and even dropped text messages. Many rural and interior areas do not face such issues, only because connectivity itself is non-existent.
It is essential to resolve such quality-of-service issues, and roll out a massive improvement in wireless networking, in terms of improved bit rates, consistent coverage across different areas, MAC (Medium Access Control) layers and data transmission capabilities, before mobile computing leaps to a new level.
As it is with any computing related development, the key to advancement is significant hardware upgrades. The key challenges facing mobile computing here, are:
- Technological breakthroughs that would enhance the efficiency and capabilities of mission-critical platforms and reduced capacity environments, and improve overall quality-of-service.
- Energy: Mobile devices now work with a finite source of energy. The next generation applications powered by pervasive computing would take energy requirements to a whole new level.
The seamless roll-out of pervasive computing requires significant improvements in software, to complement the hardware upgrades.
Taking mobile computing to the next level would require:
- Tools and middleware to develop quality-of-service enabled, or mission-critical applications
- Tools and methodologies that would enable mobile computing to seamlessly integrate with cloud computing. This would promote scalability, resilience and cost-effectiveness in pervasive computing applications
- A better integration of disparate platforms that support mobile computing, within the context of prioritization, differentiation and quality-of-service issues
- The development of real-time applications that further the cause of mission-critical requirements and other next-generation mobile computing possibilities
The possibilities are endless. Realization depends on all-round improvements in infrastructure, hardware and software.
Image Credit: Matt Cornock on Flickr