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Chapter: Mobile Computing

Mobile Computing

Mobile Computing is a technology that allows transmission of data, voice and video via a computer or any other wireless enabled device without having to be connected to a fixed physical link.



Mobile Computing is a technology that allows transmission of data, voice and video via a computer or any other wireless enabled device without having to be connected to a fixed physical link.

Mobile Computing is the use of portable computing devices (such as laptop and handheld computers) in conjunction with mobile communications technologies to enable users to access the Internet and data on their home or work computers from anywhere in the world.


It is the process of computation on a mobile device. In mobile computing, a set of distributed computing systems or service provider servers participate, connect, and synchronise through mobile communication protocols.


Mobile computing is a generic term describing ability to use the technology to wirelessly connect to and use centrally located information and/or application software through the application of small, portable, and wireless computing and communication devices. It provides decentralized (distributed) computations on diversified devices, systems, and networks, which are mobile, synchronized, and interconnected via mobile communication standards and protocols. Mobile device does not restrict itself to just one


application, such as, voice communication.


The main concept involves −


·                                Mobile communication


·                                Mobile hardware


·                                Mobile software



Mobile communication


The mobile communication in this case, refers to the infrastructure put in place to ensure that seamless and reliable communication goes on. These would include devices such as protocols, services, bandwidth, and portals necessary to facilitate and support the stated services. The data format is also defined at this stage. This ensures that there is no collision with other existing systems which offer the same service.


Since the media is unguided / unbounded, the overlaying infrastructure is basically radio wave-oriented. That is, the signals are carried over the air to intended devices that are capable of receiving and sending similar kinds of signals.


Mobile Hardware


Mobile hardware includes mobile devices or device components that receive or access the service of mobility. They would range from portable laptops, smart phones, tablet Pc's, Personal Digital Assistants.


These devices will have a receptor medium that is capable of sensing and receiving signals. These devices are configured to operate in full- duplex, whereby they are capable of sending and receiving signals at the same time.


They don't have to wait until one device has finished communicating for the other device to initiate communications. Above mentioned devices use an existing and established network to operate on. In most cases, it would be a wireless network.



Mobile software


Mobile software is the actual program that runs on the mobile hardware. It deals with the characteristics and requirements of mobile applications. This is the engine of the mobile device. In other terms, it is the operating system of the appliance. It's the essential component that operates the mobile device.


Since portability is the main factor, this type of computing ensures that users are not tied or pinned to a single physical location, but are able to operate from anywhere. It incorporates all aspects of wireless communications.


Evolution of Mobile Computing

In today's computing world, different technologies have emerged. These have grown to support the existing computer networks all over the world. With mobile computing, we find that the need to be confined within one physical location has been eradicated. We hear of terms such as telecommuting, which is being able to work from home or the field but at the same time accessing resources as if one is in the office.


The advent of portable computers and laptops, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), PC tablets and smart phones, has in turn made mobile computing very convenient. The portability of these devices ensure and enable the users to access all services as if they were in the internal network of their company. For example, the use of Tablet PC and iPads. This new technology enables the users to update documents, surf the internet, send and receive e-mail, stream live video files, take photographs and also support video and voice conferencing.


The constant and ever increasing demand for superior and robust smart devices has been a catalyst for market share. Each manufacturer is trying to carve a niche for himself in the market. These devices are invented and innovated to provide state-of-the-art applications and services. For instance, different manufacturers of cellular phones have come up with unique smart phones that are capable of performing the same task as computers and at the same processing speed.


The market share for different competitors is constantly being fought for. For example, the manufacturers of Apple's iPhone OS, Google's Android' Microsoft Windows Mobile, Research In Motion's Blackberry OS, are constantly competing to offer better products with each release.


The need for better, portable, affordable, and robust technology has made these vendors to constantly be innovative. Market figure and statistics show an ever growing need to purchase and use such devices for either professional or personal use. It is in this light that services to suit long-term implementation are developed or innovated. It has also pushed other industry vendors to adopt services that will provide better services.


For example, cellular service providers are forced to improve and be innovative to capture more subscribers. This can be in terms of superior services such as high speed internet and data access, voice and video service etc. Hence the adoption of different generations of networks like of 2G, 2.5G, 3G, 4G network services.

The essence of mobile computing is to be able to work from any location. The use of iPads, tablets, smart phones, and notebooks have pushed the demand for these devices. Modern day workers have such devices that enable them to carry out their work from the confines of their own location. These devices are configured to access and store large amounts of vital data.


Executive and top management can take decisions based on ready information without going to the office. For example, sales reports and market forecasts can be accessed through these devices or a meeting can take place via video or audio conferencing through these devices. With such features being high in demand, manufacturers are constantly coming up with applications geared to support different services in terms of mobile computing.

Advantages of Mobile Computing


Location Flexibility


This has enabled users to work from anywhere as long as there is a connection established. A user can work without being in a fixed position. Their mobility ensures that they are able to carry out numerous tasks at the same time and perform their stated jobs.


Saves Time


The time consumed or wasted while travelling from different locations or to the office and back, has been slashed. One can now access all the important documents and files over a secure channel or portal and work as if they were on their computer. It has enhanced telecommuting in many companies. It has also reduced unnecessary incurred expenses.


Enhanced Productivity


Users can work efficiently and effectively from whichever location they find comfortable. This in turn enhances their productivity level.


Ease of Research


Research has been made easier, since users earlier were required to go to the field and search for facts and feed them back into the system. It has also made it easier for field officers and researchers to collect and feed data from wherever they are without making unnecessary trips to and from the office to the field.



Video and audio recordings can now be streamed on-the-go using mobile computing. It's easy to access a wide variety of movies, educational and informative material. With the improvement and availability of high speed data connections at considerable cost, one is able to get all the entertainment they want as they browse the internet for streamed data. One is able to watch news, movies, and documentaries among other entertainment offers over the internet. This was not possible before mobile computing dawned on the computing world.


Streamlining of Business Processes


Business processes are now easily available through secured connections. Looking into security issues, adequate measures have been put in place to ensure authentication and authorization of the user accessing the services.


Some business functions can be run over secure links and sharing of information between business partners can also take place. Meetings, seminars and other informative services can be conducted using video and voice conferencing. Travel time and expenditure is also considerably reduced.


Disadvantages of Mobile Computing


Quality of Connectivity


One of the disadvantages is that the mobile devices will need either WiFi connectivity or mobile network connectivity such as GPRS, 3G and in some countries even 4G connectivity that is why this is a disadvantage because if you are not near any of these connections your access to the internet is very limited.


Security Concerns


Mobile VPNs are unsafe to connect to, and also syncing devices might also lead to security concerns. accessing a WiFi network can also be risky because WPA and WEP security can be bypassed easily.


Power Consumption


Due to the use of batteries in these devices, these do not tend to last long, if in a situation where there is no source of power for charging then that will certainly be a let down.


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