The history of computing has been characterized by three main eras: mainframe computing, for one computer shared by many, then personal computing, for one computer per person, and finally "ubiquitous" computing, meaning many computers per person. Firms that embody the trend toward ubiquitous computing tend to be the fastestmoving in the world. In addition, a diverse group of organizations is interested in ubiquitous computing: Corporations of all types, research labs, educational institutions, governments, and ordinary households all have a stake. In order to satisfy this demand, the infrastructural requirements are huge. Servers, routers, storage devices, and other hardware items are in great need and there is an endless requirement for new software applications.
Domestic IT corporations have also prepared for the ubiquitous era by forming ubiquitous-focused teams, setting up research laboratories, and establishing product roadmaps. Global IT enterprises, such as IBM, Nortel, and Fujitsu are also highly in tune with market needs. IBM is one of the quickest to embody the ubiquitous trend, and as such has committed $16 million in establishing a "Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory" (IBM UCL) in Seoul, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), which also kicked in $16 million. In the next four years the lab will handle R&D projects commissioned by The Institute of Information Technology Assessment and IBM Korea focussing on telematics and embedded software. This is in line with the goals delineated in the MIC's "IT839" strategy.
Hyundai Information Technology has recently established a 'Ubiquitous Team' to meet the government's "U-Korea' strategy. The company's Ubiquitous Team is focused on U-business such as planning, consulting, development and operation in connection with a 'Biometric Authentication service". Fujitsu has also proclaimed its transformation into a total-solution supplier ubiquitous networking through its 'Solution Forum 2004' event, recently held in Tokyo. Accordingly, Fujitsu plans to concentrate the company's resources on providing total solutions appropriate for the ubiquitous needs of each type of industry such as distribution, logistics, finance and medical treatment on the basis of the company's next-generation computing strategy called 'TRIOLE', which covers technologies across the full IT infrastructure spectrum. Worldwide, IT corporations are gearing up for the realization of ubiquitous computing.
Ubiquitous : Big Strides in Next 7 Years
The government is moving quickly to actualize its 'U-Korea' policy. In particular, as the government recently established a 'Ubiquitous Computing Business Team' officials have promulgated plans to boost the technology level of this field to the fifth position in the world by 2012. Considering Korea's relevant infrastructure level and the government's active wish to be an IT power, the ubiquitous computing field is expected to make rapid progress in the next six or seven years.
There is a diversity of opinion with regard to when the ubiquitous environment will be realized. Yet, it is a general opinion that with preparations starting now, a basic stable environment should be in place by 2007. In addition, experts predict that from 2010, the ubiquitous computing environment will have an enormous effect on our everyday lives.
Officials at Nortel explained that the Broadband Convergence Project (BcN), currently being promoted across all government levels, is anticipated to be completed by 2010. Also, a 4G wireless communication network should be widely in place by that time. Thus, the ubiquitous environment could have a firm foundation by 2010.
Regardless of the timing, people don't doubt that in future years ubiquitous computing will become an indispensable part of our daily life. However, many tasks must be solved before it can be used practically without inconvenience. These tasks include resolving the informatization gap, breaking through technology development bottlenecks, educating skilled manpower for smaller enterprises, and providing general education to the public. In addition, citizens must be sympathetic to the project and provide support.
According to an industry expert, ubiquitous technology will be adopted at the initiative of consumer electronics companies, communication service providers and equipment manufacturers, regardless of government participation. He believes that the government needs to make stronger efforts in the interest of proper realization of the ubiquitous environment.
At present security is the biggest issue facing the proper implementation of a ubiquitous environment. Recently, hacker attacks originating in China penetrated many Korean government systems. This incident focused the public and private sectors on the absolute need for security if ubiquitous computing is to flourish.
Another concern is privacy, as there are worrier that individual freedoms can be infringed by this system. However, experts note that the ubiquitous environment will take on the characteristics of the society it serves, and change as society changes. Industry sources note that the only question is whether the government will lead the direction, spearheading the trend of such changes actively, or whether it will merely watch society's spontaneous change. They advised that the government has to assume leadership to allow all citizens to benefit from the new IT revolution, by indiscriminately preventing the rich-getricher and the poor-get-poorer phenomenon of the information gap.