The current decade will see dedicated PC devices being overtaken by computing technology that can be embedded "in almost everything", researchers predicted today.
"Hardware development has reached a stage where it is possible to have a fully-fledged computer with processor, memory and operating system on a board the size of a sliver of chewing gum," said Germán Puebla, a researcher at the Technical University of Madrid.
"But software that can be programmed easily, and uses the limited hardware and power resources of pervasive computing devices as efficiently as possible, has been lacking until now."
Puebla coordinated the ASAP project which, with funding from the European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies initiative, set out to solve the problem of creating and adapting software to run efficiently on pervasive computing systems, where computers are integrated into everyday objects and environments.
The initiative has created an open source programming, analysis and optimisation toolkit for pervasive computing systems using Constraint Logic Programming (CLP) languages that has been validated in a series of case studies.
The decision to use CLP for pervasive computing not only represents a clean break from the norm, but a major innovation that will smooth the rollout of more complex software for the tiny ubiquitous computers of the future, Puebla said.
He added that, until the ASAP project, the use of high-level CLP languages, which simplify programming and make software more portable across different platforms, had not been considered a feasible solution for pervasive systems.
This is because the convenience they provide to programmers comes at the cost of less efficient and more resource-hungry code.
Researchers have therefore traditionally used low-level languages such as C, which tend to be more efficient but are more complicated to code, limit the versatility and complexity of the software, and generally force programmers to manually rewrite the program for different platforms.
Because pervasive computing involves multiple distributed platforms communicating among themselves the software needs to be interoperable, Puebla explained.
But, because of the limited processing and power resources of pervasive devices, most of which are battery operated, the software must also be as efficient as possible.
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