Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A step towards Ubiquitous Computing

Ah, wikipedia, is there anything you can't define for me? Ubiquitous Computing, or ubicomp, 'is a post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. As opposed to the desktop paradigm, in which a single user consciously engages a single device for a specialized purpose. In the course of ordinary activities, someone "using" ubiquitous computing engages many computational devices and systems simultaneously, and may not necessarily even be aware that they are doing so.'

I also like the phrase, 'everyware.' Anyway, I know what you're thinking, 'MissedCall, what small steps been taken towards ubicomp?' Well, take a gander- FTA: This ultra-thin chip package (UTCP) technology allows integrating complete systems in a conventional low-cost flex substrate. This paves the way to low-cost, unobtrusive wearable electronics for e.g. wearable health and comfort monitoring.

Shirts that call for an ambulance if their wearer has a heart attack, or houses that adjust their lighting and temperature when you walk in based on the layers you're wearing are only the beginning. Its easy to imagine how ubicomp could impact augmented reality... or more darkly, end privacy.

Of course, like many of you, I'm less concerned about my privacy rights and more concerned about whether or not there's a ridiculously cute picture I can loosely link back to this topic. Why yes there is- having the chips is one thing, but we'll need to power those chips, I submit to you this!

FTA: "This can totally be scaled up," said Zhong Lin 'ZL' Wang, who co-authored a paper describing the research in this month's issue of Nano Letters. "This is just the first step. The idea is that we would harvest energy from any body movement, from walking, breathing, from any kind of vibration."

One serious note: think about how ubicomp could improve our modelling of traffic, solve congestion problems, create an understanding of how pedestrian traffic impacts a neighborhood, maybe even provide insight into how the phenomenon of emergence relates to human crowds. Very, very useful things that are very, very difficult or time consuming to model. And, though, I'm not wild about the idea of government being able to know exactly where I am at all times, it is nice to think that I could perhaps recover all of my things if I'm mugged.

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