Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Special Issue on RFID - towards Ubiquitous Computing and the Web of Things: Guest Editors' Introduction

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Special Issue on RFID - towards Ubiquitous Computing and the Web of Things: Guest Editors' Introduction

Article excerpt

Introduction: The Emerging Research Field of Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (loT) is emerging as the next technological revolution and with it opens up a new research field. In particular, this new field needs to be studied in conjunction with adequate theories, design principles, and user acceptance. As such, a number of technologies become relevant and intertwined with this new trend. In particular, loT is an effort to reach out into the real world of physical objects. In this regard, technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), short-range wireless communications, Real Time Location Systems (RTLS), and sensor networks ubiquity contribute to make loT vision, a reality [13].

Continuous improvements in technological performance, combined with maturing applications and decreasing prices have contributed to the pervasive adoption of Automated Identification Technology (AIT) such as bar codes and RFID technology. Following its incubation period, today RFID technology adoption can be seen in various domains making its diffusion global across industries and national borders. Over the last 10 years, RFID application is witnessing a significant growth in almost each sector. RFID Item-Level Tagging (ILT) initiatives are extensively deployed in sectors such as apparel and footwear - with companies such as Gerry Weber International, American Apparel, Macy, JC Penney, and Wal-Mart leading the movement.

Adoption of RFID is closely related to various concepts such as Ubiquitous computing (Ubi-comp), the Internet of Things (loT), and Web of Things (WoT) [14], or the Web of Things and People (WoTaP) [26], or even as the Social Internet of Things (SloT) [3], All these concepts have in common the idea that a tagged object (non-living thing and living thing) can communicate electronically, in real time, with its environment through the global infrastructure of wireless Internet.

As RFID enabled sensors and intelligence are added to physical objects, this opens up way to innovative business models in electronic commerce and transformation of modern enterprises and their relationship with their constituencies. Not only it brings about changes to the way commerce takes place, but also to the way people interact with their environment and with each other's, and thus opening new perspectives to connect the physical world and the digital world [32],

On the other hand, effective application and adoption of these new models and technologies pose a host of research questions requiring scientific intervention. To this end, this article is expected to serve as an inspiration to raise awareness of researchers and attract their attention.

loT & Ubicomp: A Historical Overview

The next section presents some early key events and concepts underlying the advent of the loT.

Some Early Key Events and Concepts

Back in the early 1990's, Mark Weiser, head of the computer laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center suggested: "The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it" [33], He was in fact envisioning what he would later call Ubiquitous computing [34], in which everyday objects (and persons) become computing devices that are given the ability to communicate and interact autonomously with hundreds of nearby interconnected microcomputers without explicitly attending to them. Computing becomes an "integral, invisible part of people's lives [...] that takes into account the human world and allows the computers themselves to vanish into the background" [33], Few years later, Internet entered in our everyday life and Ubi-comp was seen as the evolution of e-commerce and described as a new paradigm where "computation and (wireless) communication capability is embedded into objects, location and even people, making it possible to interact freely with digital resources at any time, and everywhere" [28],

In the same trend, back in mid-1999, Kevin Ashton met David Brock and Sanjay Sarma at the MIT's department of architecture in Cambridge, Mass. …

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