"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."
U-M Ph.D. '79, former chief scientist at Xerox PARC and the father of ubiquitous computing
Mobile computing is revolutionizing the way people are using computers. Mobile computing in its most general sense refers to the use of any computer that is not connected by physical wires to the server or host computer with which it needs to interact. The portable devices used to do mobile computing have access to a shared infrastructure independent of their physical location.
The devices we carry today are more capable than those of just a year ago and the boundaries between academic areas are increasingly blurred. Soon the majority of people will carry a mobile computing device: mobiles are a future U-M student's affordable and ubiquitous computing platform. When asked how hard it would be to give up a specific technology, survey respondents are now most likely to say their cell phone would be most difficult to do without.
With the phenomenal growth of mobile devices, the university community expects to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever it wants to.
U-M's first iPhone application (Michigan)—a cross-campus initiative—started as a class project. U-M purchased the iWolverine app developed by two engineering students. Other in-demand features like a searchable directory and the bus schedule were added. The app launched in the iTunes store in July 2010 and reached over 12,700 downloads by October 1.
In addition to app development, U-M encourages and mentors students, faculty, and staff to create mobile applications and websites to meet the unique needs of their school or department.
The Mobile Center was created in 2010 to give developers and would-be developers a place to access resources and tools to create mobile web or device-specific applications that enhance the way we connect with each other and share information on campus. The toolkit provides an API (Application Programming Interface) directory, licensing and distribution information, and discussion forums.
With the acceptance and adoption of cloud-based applications, it will not matter where our work is stored. What will become important is that our information and data are accessible no matter where we are and what technology we choose. The University of Michigan embraces this future by partnering with those in the industry to develop new and innovative ways to communicate and share information. By mentoring and teaching students about the future of mobile computing, creating apps so students can conduct business in the palm of their hand, empowering the campus community to develop new applications—U-M is advancing mobile innovations on campus and beyond.
The university community has generated numerous mobile computing innovations over the past two years. Some examples of innovative projects developed by U-M students, faculty, and alumni include: