This course is designed to
  • Introduce students to the theoretical and technical aspects of ubiquitous computing
  • Help students identify those characteristics that make successful ubiquitous systems
  • Provide experience in developing a ubiquitous system or application
  • Develop students' critical thinking and writing, and presentation skills
This course will be taught as a reading class, meaning that students are expected to do reading assignments before each class, and to actively participate in discussion. Each week one student, the "Lecturer", will be responsible for presenting the course topic to the rest of the class, and to lead a discussion on this topic. This student will be responsible for kick-starting an online discussion on this topic, which should begin at lest 72 hours before the lecture. The rest of the students are expected to contribute to this discussion before the day of the lecture by writing a critique of the material and preparing questions for the class. In addition, students will work in groups to develop a ubiquitous systems as part of a term project.

Course material

  • Calendar [ics | pdf]
  • The online forum is here
  • Assessment form for student lectures [pdf]
  • Template for final reports [doc]
  • Template for final poster [zip]
  • Tutorial on how to write good reports [pdf]
  • Tutorial on how to create good posters [html]


  • Introduction [pdf]
  • Visions [pdf]
  • Challenges [pdf]
  • Methods & Tools [pdf]
  • Context awareness [pdf]
  • Sensing and tagging [pdf]
  • Applications: Smart Homes [pdf]
  • Privacy and security [pdf]
  • Applications: Healthcare [pdf]
  • Applications: Mobile social software [pdf]
  • Applications: Games [pdf]

Grading and exams

There is no exam for this course. Individual components will be weighted as follows (this is tentative and subject to change):
  • Lecture(s): 20%
  • Online research: 20%
  • Classroom Participation: 20%
  • Term project: 40%


Each student will sign up to deliver lectures on the topics we will be covering. Each week one student will give their lecture. This student must prepare PowerPoint or KeyNote slides to use as helping material for their lecture. If you are a lecturer, then you must post your summary (at least 500 words) 72 hours before your lecture, so that the rest of the students can respond and we can have a discussion prior to the lecture.

On the day of your lecture, you will present a 45-60 minute presentation. This will be followed by a quick 10 minute question-and-answer session in order to clarify any outstanding details relating to your presentation. We will then have a 15 minute break, followed by a 90 minute discussion session which you must lead. In this session we can discuss any issue that you want to put forward, as well as any questions that the rest of the students have asked online.

Your lecture will be evaluated on how well you describe the concepts, the breadth and depth of the topics you cover, and the overall impact of your delivery. Ideally you should present material beyond the reading list. Your discussion session will be assessed on the quality of topics you raise for discussion, and the quality of answers you give to students' questions.

Inevitably, some topics will be more difficult than others, and this will be taken into consideration.

Online research

Every week students are expected to study the material for that class. At least 48 hours before class the students must post their critique of the material, and in addition pose a number of questions to be discussed in class. Here are some points to consider when you develop your critique of the materials:

  • Do you agree/disagree with the authors?
  • Is there evidence that supports/rejects the authors' claims?
  • Under what conditions do the authors' claims hold?
  • If you were to explore the same topics, would you do something differently?
  • What are the major implications of the work?
  • How would you extend this work?
  • Do you agree with the points that the Lecturer is making (the student who is giving the lecture on this topic)?

In general, the reading list for this course represent the bare minimum for each topic we will cover. Students are encouraged to read around these papers, either by following the papers' references and citations, or by doing a search on the ACM Portal and Google Scholar.

Classroom participation

You are expected to actively participate in classroom discussion by asking question, answering questions, and in general making comment where appropriate. In addition, you are expected to have an active online participation by commenting on other students' critique and questions. Your participation will be assessed on the quality of your comments and their frequency.

Term project

Students will work on term projects in small groups of 2-4 people. Each group will propose a project. Roughly speaking, projects will be one of three types:

  • Design oriented, conducting formative user studies (interviews, surveys, and observations), creating mockups of user interfaces, evaluating those mockups with potential users, and iterating several times, culminating in a useful, usable, and desirable design of a ubiquitous computing application.
  • Implementation oriented, creating or extending a ubiquitous computing system.
  • Evaluation oriented, taking an existing system, designing a user study, and conducting that user study.
Each team must deliver
  • a report (using the template provided above)
  • a poster to be printed in size A3 (optionally using one of templates provided above)
  • a disk with all relevant software, drivers, and installation instructions.

Reading material


  • Bell, G. and Dourish, P. (2007). Yesterday's tomorrows: notes on ubiquitous computing's dominant vision. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing , 11 (2), 133-143. [pdf]
  • Waller, V. and Johnston, R. B. (2009). Making ubiquitous computing available. Communications of the ACM 52(10):127-130. [pdf]
  • Rogers, Y. (2006). Moving On from Weiser's Vision of Calm Computing: Engaging UbiComp Experiences. In Ubicomp 2006, LNCS 4206, pp. 404-421, 2006. [pdf]
  • Weiser, M. and Brown, J. S. (1996). The coming age of calm technology. In Beyond Calculation: the Next Fifty Years, P. J. Denning and R. M. Metcalfe, Eds. Copernicus, New York, NY, 75-85. [pdf]
  • Weiser, M. (1991). The Computer for the Twenty-First Century. Scientific American 265(3): 94-104. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Vinge, V. (2004). Synthetic serendipity. IEEE Spectrum 41(7):35-44. [pdf]
    • Goldstein, H. (2004). Synthetic serendipity. IEEE Spectrum 41(7):45-48. [pdf]


  • Schmidt, A., Kranz, M., and Holleis, P. (2005). Interacting with the ubiquitous computer: towards embedding interaction. In Proceedings of the 2005 Joint Conference on Smart Objects and Ambient intelligence: innovative Context-Aware Services: Usages and Technologies, volume 121, . ACM, New York, NY, 147-152. [pdf]
  • Burnett, M. and Rainsford, C.P. (2001). A Hybrid Evaluation Approach for Ubiquitous Computing Environments. Workshop on Evaluation Methodologies for Ubiquitous Computing, held at Ubicomp 2001. [pdf]
  • Schilit, B. N. (2003). Mega-Utilities Drive Invisible Technologies. Computer 36(2):97-99. [pdf]
  • Davies, N. and Gellersen, H. (2002). Beyond Prototypes: Challenges in Deploying Ubiquitous Systems. IEEE Pervasive Computing 1(1):26-35. [pdf]
  • Want, R., Borriello, G., Pering, T., and Farkas, K. I. (2002). Disappearing Hardware. IEEE Pervasive Computing 1(1):36-47. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Banavar, G., Beck, J., Gluzberg, E., Munson, J., Sussman, J., and Zukowski, D. (2000). Challenges: an application model for pervasive computing. In MobiCom '00, pp. 266-27. [pdf]
    • Satyanarayanan, M. (2001). Pervasive Computing: Vision and Challenges. IEEE Personal Communications 8(4):10-17. [pdf]
    • Franklin, M. J. (2001). Challenges in Ubiquitous Data Management. In informatics - 10 Years Back. 10 Years Ahead. R. Wilhelm, Ed. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 2000. Springer-Verlag, London, 24-33. [pdf]

Methods & Tools

  • Iqbal, R., Sturm, J., Kulyk, O., Wang, J., and Terken, J. (2005). User-centred design and evaluation of ubiquitous services. In Proceedings of the 23rd Annual international Conference on Design of Communication: Documenting and Designing For Pervasive information. SIGDOC '05. ACM, New York, NY, 138-145. [pdf]
  • de Silva, G. C., Yamasaki, T., and Aizawa, K. (2005). Evaluation of video summarization for a large number of cameras in ubiquitous home. In Proceedings of the 13th Annual ACM international Conference on Multimedia. MULTIMEDIA '05. ACM, New York, NY, 820-828. [pdf]
  • Oulasvirta, A. (2004). Finding meaningful uses for context-aware technologies: the humanistic research strategy. In CHI '04, pp. 247-254. [pdf]
  • Kostakos, V., Nicolai, T., Yoneki, E., O'Neill, E., Kenn, H. and Crowcroft, J. (2008). Understanding and measuring the urban pervasive infrastructure. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Springer. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Iachello, G., Truong, K. N., Abowd, G. D., Hayes, G. R., and Stevens, M. (2006). Prototyping and sampling experience to evaluate ubiquitous computing privacy in the real world. In CHI '06, pp. 1009-1018. [pdf]
    • Trevor, J., Hilbert, D.M., Schilit, B.N. (2002). Issues in personalizing shared ubiquitous devices. In Ubicomp 2002, pp. 56-72. [pdf]
    • Barkhuus, L. and Dourish, P. (2004). Everyday encounters with context-aware computing in a campus environment. In Ubicomp 2004, pp. 232-249. [pdf]

Context awareness

  • Schilit, B., Adams, N., and Want, R. (1994). Context-Aware Computing Applications. In Proceedings of First Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications, pp. 85-90. [pdf]
  • Pfeiffer, E.W. (2003). WhereWare. MIT Technology Review, 2003:46-52. [pdf]
  • Erickson, T. (2002). Some problems with the notion of context-aware computing. Commuications of the ACM 45(2):102-104. [pdf]
  • Satyanarayanan, M. (2002). Challenges in Implementing a Context-Aware System. IEEE Pervasive Computing 1(3):2. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Schilit, B.N., Hilbert, D.M., Trevor, J. (2002). Context-Aware Communication. IEEE Wireless Communications 9(5):46-54. [pdf]

Sensing and tagging

  • Chung, E. S., Hong, J. I., Lin, J., Prabaker, M. K., Landay, J. A., and Liu, A. L. (2004). Development and evaluation of emerging design patterns for ubiquitous computing. In Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Designing interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques (Cambridge, MA, USA, August 01 - 04, 2004). DIS '04. ACM, New York, NY, 233-242. [pdf]
  • Bellotti, V., Back, M., Edwards, W. K., Grinter, R. E., Henderson, A., and Lopes, C. (2002). Making sense of sensing systems: five questions for designers and researchers. In CHI '02, pp. 415-422. [pdf]
  • Want, R., RFID (2003). A Key to Automating Everything. Scientific American. 290(1):56-65. [pdf]
  • Kostakos, V. (2008). Towards sustainable transport: wireless detection of passenger trips on public transport buses. arXiv:0806.0874. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Dey, A., Mankoff, J., Abowd, G., and Carter, S. (2002). Distributed mediation of ambiguous context in aware environments. In UIST '02, pp. 121-130. [pdf]
    • Want, R., Fishkin, K. P., Gujar, A., and Harrison, B. L. (1999). Bridging physical and virtual worlds with electronic tags. In CHI '99, pp. 370-377. [pdf]

Privacy and security

  • Dragovic, B. and Crowcroft, J. (2004). Information exposure control through data manipulation for ubiquitous computing. In Proceedings of the 2004 Workshop on New Security Paradigms. NSPW '04. ACM, New York, NY, 57-64. [pdf]
  • Langheinrich, M. (2009) Privacy in Ubiquitous Computing. In John Krumm (Ed.), Ubiquitous Computing. CRC Press, ISBN 978-1420093605, September 2009. [pdf]
  • Satyanarayanan, M. (2003). Privacy: The Achilles Heel of Pervasive Computing? IEEE Pervasive Computing 2(1):2-3. [pdf]
  • Goldstein, H. (2004). We like to watch. IEEE Spectrum, 41(7):30-34. [pdf]
  • Martin, T., Hsiao, M., Ha, D., and Krishnaswami, J. (2004). Denial-of-Service Attacks on Battery-powered Mobile Computers. In Percom'04, pp. 309-318. [pdf]
  • R.Mayrhofer and H.Gellersen. (2007). Shake well before use: Authentication based on accelerometer data. In Pervasive 2007, pp.144-161. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Bellotti, V. and Sellen, A. (1993). Design for privacy in ubiquitous computing environments. In ECSCW '93, pp. 77-92. [pdf]
    • Langheinrich, M. (2001). Privacy by Design - Principles of Privacy-Aware Ubiquitous Systems. In Ubicomp '01, pp. 273-291. [pdf]
    • Balfanz D., Golle P., Staddon J. (2004). Proactive Data Sharing to Enhance Privacy in Ubicomp Environments. In UbiComp '04. [pdf]
    • Kumagai, J. and Cherry, S. (2004). Society: sensors & sensibility. IEEE Spectr. 41(7):22-28. [pdf]
    • Perrig, A., Szewczyk, R., Tygar, J. D., Wen, V., and Culler, D. E. (2002). SPINS: security protocols for sensor networks. Wireless Networks 8(5):521-534. [pdf]
    • Corner, M. D. and Noble, B. D. (2002). Zero-interaction authentication. In MobiCom '02, pp. 1-11. [pdf]

Applications: Smart Homes

  • Little, L., Sillence, E., and Briggs, P. (2009). Ubiquitous systems and the family: thoughts about the networked home. In Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (Mountain View, California, July 15 - 17, 2009). SOUPS '09. ACM, New York, NY, 1-9. [pdf]
  • Edwards, W.K and Grinter, R.E (2001). A home with ubiquitous computing: seven challenges. In proceedings of Ubicomp 2001, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, LNCS2201, 256-272. [pdf]
  • Edwards, W. K. and Grinter, R. E. (2001). At Home with Ubiquitous Computing: Seven Challenges. In Ubicomp ' 01, pp. 256-272. [pdf]
  • Rodden, T. and Benford, S. (2003). The evolution of buildings and implications for the design of ubiquitous domestic environments. In CHI '03, pp. 9-16. [pdf]
  • Aipperspach, R., Hooker, B., and Woodruff, A. (2008). The heterogeneous home. In Ubicomp '08, pp. 222-231. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Bly, S., Schilit, B., McDonald, D. W., Rosario, B., and Saint-Hilaire, Y. (2006). Broken expectations in the digital home. In CHI '06, pp. 568-573. [pdf]
    • Meyer, S. and Rakotonirainy, A. (2003). A survey of research on context-aware homes. In Proceedings of the Australasian information Security Workshop Conference on ACSW Frontiers, pp. 159-168. [pdf]
    • Petersen, M. G. (2004). Remarkable computing: the challenge of designing for the home. In CHI '04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Vienna, Austria, April 24 - 29, 2004). CHI '04. ACM, New York, NY, 1445-1448. [pdf]

Applications: Healthcare

  • Little, L. and Briggs, P. (2009). Pervasive healthcare: the elderly perspective. In Proceedings of the 2nd international Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related To Assistive Environments. PETRA '09. ACM, New York, NY, 1-5. [pdf]
  • Lorincz, K., Malan, D. J., Fulford-Jones, T. R., Nawoj, A., Clavel, A., Shnayder, V., Mainland, G., Welsh, M., and Moulton, S. (2004). Sensor Networks for Emergency Response: Challenges and Opportunities. IEEE Pervasive Computing 3(4):16-23. [pdf]
  • Hayes, G. R., Gardere, L. M., Abowd, G. D., and Truong, K. N. (2008). CareLog: a selective archiving tool for behavior management in schools. In CHI '08, pp. 685-694. [pdf]
  • Kyng, M., Nielsen, E. T., and Kristensen, M. (2006). Challenges in designing interactive systems for emergency response. In DIS '06, pp. 301-310 [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Hayes, G.R., J.A. Kientz, K.N. Truong, D.R. White, G.D. Abowd, and T. Pering (2004). Designing Capture Applications to Support the Education of Children with Autism. In Ubicomp '04. [pdf]
    • Kumar, S., Kambhatla, K., Hu, F., Lifson, M., and Xiao, Y. (2008). Ubiquitous computing for remote cardiac patient monitoring: a survey. International Journal of Telemedicine Applications, 4:1-19. [pdf]

Applications: Mobile social software

  • Jessup, L. M. and Robey, D. (2002). The relevance of social issues in ubiquitous computing environments. Communications of the ACM 45(12):88-91. [pdf]
  • Kostakos, V. and O'Neill E. (2008). Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-world Social Networks. In M. Foth (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, IGI Global, pp. 195-204. [pdf]
  • Kostakos, V., O'Neill, E., Shahi, A. (2006). Building Common Ground for Face to Face Interactions by Sharing Mobile Device Context. In Loca ' 06, pp. 222-238. [pdf]
  • Kranz, M., Holleis, P., and Schmidt, A. (2006). Ubiquitous presence systems. In SAC '06, pp. 1902-1909. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Thom-Santelli, J. (2007). Mobile Social Software: Facilitating Serendipity or Encouraging Homogeneity? IEEE Pervasive Computing 6(3):46-51. [pdf]
    • Paulos, E. and Goodman, E. (2004). The familiar stranger: anxiety, comfort, and play in public spaces. In CHI '04, pp. 223-230. [pdf]

Applications: Wearable computing

  • Jones, M. T., Martin, T. L., and Sawyer, B. (2008). An architecture for electronic textiles. In the Iinternational Conference on Body Area Networks, pp. 1-4. [pdf]
  • D. Graumann, M. Quirk, B. Sawyer, J. Chong, G. Raffa, M. Jones, and T. Martin (2007). Large surface area electronic textiles for ubiquitous computing: A system approach. In Mobiquitous '07. [pdf]
  • Bharatula, N. B., Lukowicz, P., and Trsster, G. (2008). Functionality-power-packaging considerations in context aware wearable systems. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 12(2):123-141. [pdf]
  • Ishii, H. and Ullmer, B. (1997). Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms. In CHI '97, pp. 234-241. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Narayanan, D. and Satyanarayanan, M. (2003). Predictive Resource Management for Wearable Computing. In MobiSys '03, pp. 113-128. [pdf]

Applications: Games

  • Bjork, S., Holopainen, J., Ljungstrand, P., and Mandryk, R. (2002). Special Issue on Ubiquitous Games. Personal Ubiquitous Computing, 6(5-6):358-361. [pdf]
  • Manninen, T. (2002). Contextual Virtual Interaction as Part of Ubiquitous Game Design and Development. Personal Ubiquitous Computing, 6(5-6):390-406. [pdf]
  • Flintham, M., Benford, S., Anastasi, R., Hemmings, T., Crabtree, A., Greenhalgh, C., Tandavanitj, N., Adams, M., and Row-Farr, J. (2003). Where on-line meets on the streets: experiences with mobile mixed reality games. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '03. ACM, New York, NY, 569-576. [pdf]
  • Crabtree, A., Benford, S., Rodden, T., Greenhalgh, C., Flintham, M., Anastasi, R., Drozd, A., Adams, M., Row-Farr, J., Tandavanitj, N., and Steed, A. (2004). Orchestrating a mixed reality game 'on the ground'. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '04. ACM, New York, NY, 391-398. [pdf]
  • Optional reading:
    • Magerkurth, C., Cheok, A. D., Mandryk, R. L., and Nilsen, T. (2005). Pervasive games: bringing computer entertainment back to the real world. Computer Entertainment, 3(3):1-19. [pdf]

Student Projects

  • Adriano Lopes, Antonio Carvalho (2011). Dropbox. [paper | poster]
  • Catia Afonseca, Patricia Nanscimento, Vanda Trindade (2011). Epidemic diffusion. [paper | poster]
  • Sandra Perdomo (2011). Fon. [paper | poster]
  • Andre Canha, Mauro Gama, Rui Monteiro (2011). Pervasive healthcare in Smart Homes. [paper | poster]
  • Diamantino Ferreira, Roberto Dias (2011). Paper Computing. [paper | poster]
  • Vanessa Berenguer, Valter Candelaria (2011). Smartpen. [paper | poster]
  • Vitor Goncalves, Tiago Tomas (2011). Interactive surfaces. [paper | poster]
  • Antonio Franco, Pedro Camacho (2011). Wardriving Funchal. [paper | poster]
  • Francisco Andrade, Antons Davis, and Michael Pennisi (2010). We know it before you do: Finding recognition patterns in brain activity [paper | poster]
  • Francisco Andrade, Antons Davis, and Michael Pennisi (2010). We know it before you do: Finding recognition patterns in brain activity [paper | poster]
  • Andre Doria, Daniel Wagner, Iryna Pavlyshak, Mariana Lopez (2009). A series of insights: location sharing [paper | poster] (Presented at MobileHCI 2010)
  • Denzil Ferreira, Maria Freitas, Joao Rodrigues, Vitor Ferreira (2009). Twitviz - Exploring twitter network for your interests [paper | poster]