Ubiquitous Computing · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Jan 20, 2007
Having heard, read and seen a lot on ubiquitous computing for some time now I decided to go back in time when Mark Weiser, called the father of Ubi Comp, first started writing about it. To my surprise many of the things he wrote still hold true even today after about 13 years! So I recap a few things from this article.
People work in a world of shared situations and unexamined technological skills…however the computer today is isolated and isolating from the overall situation, and fails to get out of the way of the work.
The personal computer continues to be the most consuming tool of any personal or collaborative process.
He places the field of virtual reality almost as an opposite reaction to the idea of Ubi Comp. In a Ubi Comp experience the user continues to interact with the real world as opposed to the virtual world- and its interface. Extending this observation it becomes apparent that even mobile computing today does not make an effort to integrate the user back into his/her surroundings. All efforts to do so are a result of gazing into tiny inch screens of a mobile phone/PDA or personal assistant. Mobile devices still seek partial attention if not total attention of the user.
The future ubiquitous computer is not a PDA, phone or a digital assistant…Since information will be accessible everywhere one would not need to carry anything.
Ubiquitous computing has as its goal the enhancing computer use by making many computers available throughout the physical environment, but making them effectively invisible to the user.
Invisibility is a key factor in creating tools for interacting with the world. He brings up the example of how eyeglasses are a good tool- “you look at the world, not the eyeglasses”. I think this is an inspiring way of looking at urban computing tools and how they should appear/disappear in the user’s surroundings.
On Voice input- I want to talk to(or listen) people around me, not to my computer… Voice input is attention grabbing.
Work on ubiquitous computing is still at an early phase. Most work now is concentrating on the mobile infrastructure for wireless networking. Because ubiquitous computing envisions hundreds of wireless computers in every office, its need for wireless bandwidth is prodigious.
Weiser towards the end talks about creating interpolable mobile networks that can accommodate a variety of mobile devices. In the present day we continue to have a problem defining a standard(more so an open standard) or protocol required for a user friendly mobile infrastructure as opposed to a carrier friendly one.
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