Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ubiquitous Computing

Here is Nat Torkington on O'Reilly Radar talking about Ubiquitous Computing. Its a useful jumping off point into several leading researchers sites.

I added this comment:

The technology required to support ubiquitous computing is reaching a tipping point, in the next year or so all the obstacles will melt away and the devices we carry in our pockets will have an excess of compute power, storage capacity, network bandwidth, and battery capacity. The developer space is moving from "death by 1000 ports" on very limited platforms to two that matter, iPhone and Android that have raised the baseline and opened up to a new breed of applications. I've been tracking and predicting this on my Millicomputing blog (at http://www.millicomputing.com ) and talking about it at conferences like BIL, eComm etc. We have also been building our own open source homebrew mobile phone hardware....

There seems to be a current focus on urban computing, and integrating people with the dense mesh of location aware services and communication opportunities that exist in cities. I'm more interested in the effects of taking "friction" out of communications between people. This is a concept that I picked up while working at eBay. In effect eBay took friction out of selling, PayPal took friction out of payments, and Skype took friction out of communicating. That is what made those businesses take off rapidly.

So far mobile phones have also taken friction out of communicating, we don't need to be tied to a wired location to communicate. Skype has removed the frictions of cost and ease of use, and has provided improved audio and video quality while you are at your desk or toting your laptop. One of the missing links is mobile Skype, it's still a bit slow and inconvenient to have Skype in your pocket, but the mobile versions of Skype are improving and the hardware needed to make them mainstream is on the way.

I'm still seeing most people thinking of their pocket device as a relatively dumb client terminal that hooks up to web services, I think this is a blinkered view. The thing in your pocket will become your server, and the compelling applications will be the ones that take most advantage of what can be done right there right now....

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