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.


- 4 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Graeme Shaw

    Interesting stuff. It seems to me that the main thing slowing this down is we’re a long way off from having all of our TVs and lightening systems networked as standard. Once the hardware support is there in the devices you might want to control, I think the software and services will be developed around them pretty rapidly.

    22 Sep 2008, 10:45

  2. Steve Rumsby

    I saw an interesting application of this on Top Gear last night. I know it was a repeat, but I didn’t notice it first time around because I hadn’t been thinking about the idea. The Nissan GT-R, in Japan at least, is limited to 112mph. But it has a built-in SatNav, and it “knows” when it is on a race track rather than on the public roads, and automatically turns off the limiter. That’s exactly the sort of thing I have in mind…

    22 Sep 2008, 14:50

  3. Steve Rumsby

    Coincidentally, Google posted this a couple of days ago.

    22 Sep 2008, 14:56

  4. Graeme Shaw

    Geocode is an interesting new project from Mozilla. Reminded me of this post when I was reading about it last night – http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/10/introducing-geode/

    08 Oct 2008, 08:33


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