Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mobile RFID by Samsung; Open Verizon Network?!

If you are a fan of pervasive computing, you'll be happy to learn that two corporations are trying to make your mobile life more... ubiquitous.

Verizon recently announced that it will provide an "Any Apps, Any Device" option for customers in 2008.

A quote from Verizon's website:

“This is a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass market wireless devices – one which we believe will set the table for the next level of innovation and growth,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer. “Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather adding an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience.”

And here is the "good news" about Samsung's venture into mobile RFID:

"Samsung Unveils RFID Reader Chip for Mobile Devices

With mobile RFID growth expected to skyrocket in the coming years, Samsung Electronics served notice that it intends to be a major beneficiary of the growth with a single-chip RFID reader for mobile devices.

Samsung said it expects the radio-frequency identification chip will initially be designed into card-type readers that plug into mobile handsets; later the chip will likely be included in retail store handheld readers and directly in mobile phone handsets.

"We are enabling anytime, anywhere mobile access to information," said Chihee Chung, senior VP of Samsung's Electronics System LSI Division, in a statement. "RFID chip readers systems allow consumers to pull context-specific information into their mobile devices while on the go. Our mobile RFID single-chip technology is an important step in the evolution of ubiquitous computing."

My comments:

Although Verizon and Samsung's efforts appear to move us closer to Weiser's vision of ubiquitous computing, we must keep in mind that with each advance in technology, there are a host of other problems, such as privacy and security, usability, and accessibility, that remain to be fully addressed!

"Ubiquitous computing names the third wave in computing, just now beginning. First were mainframes, each shared by lots of people. Now we are in the personal computing era, person and machine staring uneasily at each other across the desktop. Next comes ubiquitous computing, or the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives." -Mark Weiser

What do you think?


Information about the early history of Ubiquitous Computing

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ubiquity: RXDXT's post about William Gibson's thoughts about ubiquitous computing...

I came across this post on rxdxt’s blog, I couldn't put it any better:


There's a great interview in Rolling Stone with one of my favourite authors of all time, William Gibson (Neuromancer, coiner of the term Cyberspace and his newest Spook Country (which I'm reading now). Here's a quote:

"Ubiquitous computing?

Totally ubiquitous computing. One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn't cyberspace is going to be unimaginable. When I wrote Neuromancer in 1984, cyberspace already existed for some people, but they didn't spend all their time there. So cyberspace was there, and we were here. Now cyberspace is here for a lot of us, and there has become any state of relative nonconnectivity. There is where they don't have Wi-Fi.

In a world of superubiquitous computing, you're not gonna know when you're on or when you're off. You're always going to be on, in some sort of blended-reality state. You only think about it when something goes wrong and it goes off. And then it's a drag."

This made me think. When I become a grandmother, will I find myself among other grandparents, physically miles away, attending my grandchild's science fair, musical recital, or high school drama performance in SecondLife?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Musings about pervasive computing and health care, usability, rationale for "technology-supported human-world interaction"

"Imagine a world," said cardiologist Leslie Saxon, "where you turn on your computer and, along with surfing the Web and turning on YouTube, you can check your or your family members' health stats."

This is the quote that grabbed my heart this morning from an
article in a recent Technology Review announcing the "First Annual Body Computing Conference".

This is the stuff that gets me really excited.

Technology and health care are topics that interest me, since they directly affect my life and the lives of those who are close to me, if you've read previous posts on my blog(s):

Usability Interaction Hall of Shame (user-unfriendly technology in a hospital setting)

World Usability Day 2007: Healthcare Focus

Skype in the Hospital: Grandpa, webcams, and grandkids over the miles

Those of you who follow my blog(s), know that I have an interest in ubiquitous - also known as pervasive- computing, and how it can support what I call technology-supported human-world interaction.

What is technology-supported human-world interaction?

First of all, it is a concept that I can wrap my head around, since I come from a background in psychology and education, and didn't take a computer programming class until I was in my 40's.

It is a concept that my non-techie circle of friends, school colleagues, and extended family members can also understand.

Technology-supported human-world interaction incorporates HCI concepts, but it takes into consideration the broad range of human interactions. It is an attempt to identify what specific systems, applications, networks, interaction designs, interfaces, and input/output modalities are best suited for the task, action, or interaction, and also looks closely at the panorama in which this is likely to occur.

Since human interactions are dynamic and change over time, the concept of panorama includes a temporal component. Of course, this necessitates that programmers, systems developers, designers, and everyone else involved in the process becomes cognizant of the the big picture, the wider view, before the first line of code is ever discussed.

Why do I think this is so important?

When I was a little girl, my family visited a communications technology exhibit, and I participated in a demonstration of a TV phone. I was so excited when I heard the scientist say,

"In the very near future, imagine a world where everyone will be able to call their friends and family, and see them talking on TV, right from their kitchens!"

That was nearly 40 years ago.

I've never lost hold of that feeling of excitement, even though as an adult, I've experienced much that could wear my excitement away....

A large percentage of my interactions with computers and technology over the years has been with poorly designed cell phones and cable TV remotes, crashing laptops, user-unfriendly database systems, problematic productivity applications, and lost Internet connections.

The people who worked for months, even years, creating these problem applications and devices aren't stupid. General users aren't stupid. So why do we still encounter so many frustrating problems?

Until recently, in the technology world, both in academia and in the workplace, the focus has been too narrow. My hunch is that things are changing, and somehow, I'd like to be a part of it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ubiquitous interactive computing comes to the corner bank?!

Here is another way that innovative technologies are supporting "human-world" interaction. My last post addressed the topic wayfinding and gas pumps with internet-linked touchscreens... if you decide to forgo the ATM and wander inside your corner bank, you'll be amazed at the changes

According to a post from the Bank Channel, Umpqua bank is using technology to promote better customer -(or user) experience:

"Umpqua has collaborated with technology companies including Cisco, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, NCR and Planar to develop and integrate technology that the bank says will enhance customer experience and store operations. In many cases, it is the first time these technologies have been implemented in a consumer setting.

Features of the new branch include:

  • Product wall: A 40-foot, interactive plasma wall that features touch screen technology, podcasts and community search functionality.
  • Community wall: This interactive display wall serves as the store's official community center. It provides information on volunteer opportunities and community events, supports fundraising for community organizations and includes a survey option for users to tell Umpqua which topics they would like to learn more about.
  • LocalSpace: Umpqua's own social networking site that is designed to connect and assist local businesses in a virtual setting.
  • Computer cafĂ©: Features tables embedded with state-of-the-art Lenovo laptops for easy-access online banking or Web access.
  • Ask an expert: Connects customers face-to-face with experts on a wide range of financial topics at any time.
  • Interactive and in-store shopping: Customers can browse merchandise from local merchants as well as Umpqua's Discover Local Music CDs, books and other products."
Additional information about Umpqua's innovative use of technologies is described in an article from BusinessWire.

Something like this would be great asset at the mall, or for relatives and friends visiting loved ones during hospital stays.....

Google Maps at the Gas Pump?!: One Small Step Towards Ubiquitous Computing for the Masses....

If you are out and about and find yourself lost and in need of gas, Google might be right at your fingertips to point you in the right direction.
Gasoline pump maker Gilbarco Veeder-Root will provide Google Maps on Internet connected screens right on the gas pump.

Promotions and ads can be displayed on the screen, and customers can receiveand coupons through the pump's receipt printer, according to an article in InformationWeek. Information about local restaurants, shops, and services will also be available to customers. Information will be accessed via a touch -screen.

The next step? Enable the gas-pump Internet screens to inter-operate with cell phones and PDA's!