All entries for Friday 19 September 2008

September 19, 2008

Ambient computing

Follow-up to Nokia Open Lab 2008 – Overview from Steve's blog

One theme that cropped up in a few of the workshops at the Nokia OpenLabs was the notion of “ambient computing”. That is simply the idea that the environment around us, the things that we interact with every day, have some digital intelligence and are able to react to things we do. A simple example. My phone has a GPS receiver in it and so knows where it is, and generally therefore where I am. When I leave the house it knows, and can turn off the lights and TV that I left on. Obviously it isn’t quite that simple, and since a lot of the applications for this sort of thing are location based I’ll discuss it more in a post to come about the geo-location workshop, but that gives you an idea.

I wonder how far we are from being able to implement such ambient (or perhaps another term is pervasive) computing? It seems like technically much of this is doable today, at least as far as the devices themselves are concerned. There are definitely some services and infrastructure required that will need careful thought. What does my phone communicate my location to? How do I know I can trust it not to reveal my location to others? Who/what do I trust to control my house? Where are the standards that allow such disparate devices to talk to each other?

Practically, this has to all be some way off still. Again, though, it is interesting that Nokia are thinking this way. And surprising, to me at least.

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