Subject Spotlight : Ubiquitous Computing - 1st April

Published on the 1st of April, 2017.

Welcome to a series covering the variety of electrical engineering subjects available at Melbourne Uni. This series hopes to give those who have not done the subjects a more overall outlook of what the subject entails, tips and more interesting information that is only known by those who have done the subject.

Disclaimer: These articles are written from past experiences and may not reflect what the subject is currently like or will be like in the future. The opinions expressed are purely the authors’ and not representative of the Melbourne Uni Electrical Engineers Club or the University of Melbourne. In no way is anything here presented as fact. Do not come complaining to us if after reading something you think the subject is easy and then you fail or if something crucial has changed in the subject.


Year this subject was taken: 2016-2017 Semester 2 Quarter A

Ubiquitous computing, also known as pervasive computing is the next step in computing, connecting sensors, data and the human user. A ubiquitous system is hidden in the background, always present and personalised.

Examples of systems such as these are Fitbits, smartwatches and smart locks. This subject consists of exploring qualitatively key aspects of this new space, alongside developing a project in groups.


  • An introduction to ubiquitous computing
  • Localisation
  • Context
  • Participatory sensing
  • Vibration monitoring


The lecturer for Ubiquitous Computing is Nirvana Meratnia. Lectures are 1 hour and 45 minutes long consisting of 45 minutes of lectures, a 15 min break and then 45 min of discussing the group project with the lecturer. Lectures are not recorded and slides are made available after the lecture.

Prior Knowledge:

This subject, is an introductory subject to a new concept, and so does not require any pre-requisite knowledge. However the project portion of the subject which makes up the bulk of the marks will require electronics, project management and report writing knowledge depending on the project that is chosen.


Aside from the lectures, groups are expected to work on a project for 8 weeks. Groups are not pre-allocated and neither is the project, groups are allowed to pick whatever they want as long as it is related to ubiquitous computing topics.

All the work is on the groups to do and there is no procedure or timetable for it, only a bit of guidance from the lecturer every lecture.

At the end of the quarter, there is an 8 minute presentation on the product or study and then a report is due.

There is also a journal peer review, a mini quiz and a debate on topics related to the subject, all accessed.

There is no exam at the end of the quarter.


Do the project early and make sure it is feasible.

This subject project (much like all the other subjects here) is very hands off, if you need to know how to do something you have to go out of your way to learn it.

If you haven't noticed already this is not a Melbourne University subject, but a subject I am currently doing on exchange at the University of Twente. I highly recommend that anyone who can go on exchange to do so as it is an enriching experience.

There is a subject at Melbourne University called Pervasive Computing that is similar to this one topic wise (not currently available at the time of writing):

It is a nice change of pace for some of us that have been studying at the same university for many years, and you can experience not only a different culture but different ways other universities teach their students.

Subjects at the University of Twente are more specialised and classes are a lot smaller so there is a lot of lecturer student interaction. This university fosters a strong entrepreneurial spirit as many of its subjects have unstructured project work. It is a good way to build up a set of specialised skills not present in the Master of Engineering (until the Final year project) at Melbourne University.

BY Dennis Nguyen

Melbourne University Electrical Engineering Club


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