Strengthened by the growing importance of embedded systems in today's programmable hardware, UbiLab is the VUB's Department of Computer Science answer to the need to expose students to the diversity of hardware that is about to realize the future vision of ubiquitous computing. In this vision, further hardware miniaturization and diversification will bring programmable devices to the ambient, often embedded in everyday life objects.
Sensor network nodes, microcontroller starter kits, sensors and actuators, RFID readers, mobile phones and PDAs comprise UbiLab's interesting hardware inventory that is freely available to all computer science students.
The following movie (comments in Dutch) gives a preview of the kind of experiments performed by bachelor students using the equipment offered by UbiLab. The projects shown have been executed by first year Math students and 17-year old prospective CS students.
This section shares the teaching experiences gained during the Programming Technology Lab's foray into the realm of ubiquitous computing. We illustrate our experiences using the Pico programming language with the Arduino microcontroller board and the Armpit Scheme programming language with the Olimex LPC-H2214 microcontroller development board respectively.
What started out as some of the supervisors' personal hobbies, was allowed to trickle into the practical sessions of a programming course for first-year mathematics students in a desire to captivate an audience that is by and large hostile to computer science. Ubiquitous computing experiences with first-year mathematics students reviews some of the more impressive student projects that resulted from this experiment, while Ubiquitous computing experiences with high-school students describes a highly successful workshop organised to attract prospective students to the field. The experiments' positive outcome and the realisation that embedded systems account for the bulk of today's programmable hardware, have led to physical computing being introduced in the regular computer science curriculum —an ongoing experiment about which Ubiquitous computing experiences with first-year computer science students reports some preliminary impressions.