Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Technology

The Future of Ubiquitous Computers 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Is there any end to this ubiquitous computing thing? Plants that send thank you notes, player pianos that follow the dancer's movements, and umbrellas that warn you of upcoming rain are just a few of the uses of embedded computers described in this article from the NY Times. Laptops seem so dull when it's easy to embed chips, install a Linux distro and sew them into your clothes. Do we really need to wear our computers? Why can't the world be happy with a good old desktop? It was good enough for the PC generation."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Future of Ubiquitous Computers

Comments Filter:
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:09PM (#23019660)
    Technology continues its inevitable march forward for the simple reason that it can, and it's usually profitable for someone to advance it.
    • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:18PM (#23019708)
      Exactly.

      Who wants to call a house? People want to call a person.

      The desktop computer is akin to the wired landline.

      The laptop may be akin to the car phones or the monster sized cell phones of the past.

      I don't want to go to my desk. Not for my phone and not for my computer. But it in my pocket. Bring on the borg.
      • by vertigoCiel (1070374) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:35AM (#23021248)
        While embedded devices will be nice for grabbing information on the fly, or for integrating computers with other activities, I don't think laptops and desktops are going anywhere. When doing work such as coding, writing, graphics, etc., people are still going to want a nice big display, full keyboard, and a chair to sit down in.
        • by kabocox (199019)
          While embedded devices will be nice for grabbing information on the fly, or for integrating computers with other activities, I don't think laptops and desktops are going anywhere. When doing work such as coding, writing, graphics, etc., people are still going to want a nice big display, full keyboard, and a chair to sit down in.

          Imagine an absurdly large data sized USB thumb drive. Say 1 Petabyte or heck 1 exabtye in a form factor slightly larger than the usb plug and a slight rectangle or square. (We could
      • I like your analogies.

        What I'm looking forward to is 15 years from now, when my kids ask "Dad, why do you still use a 'desktop' computer?" dismissively telling me its "quaint".

        And me saying "When I was your age, I had nothing but a 14" CRT running CGA, using an 8086 processor running at 4mhz (8mhz Turbo), and only 640k of ram. And I *liked* it!"

        The kids would then look at me like I'm crazy, and go back to their wristwatch computers that project a 60" image on the wall.
        • When I was that age, all I had was a "keyboard" attached to a 14 inch set. The image was blurry, the sound was 8-bit, and the floppy drive was bigger than a laptop.

          Back to topic:

          The thing I don't like about wearable computers is that it's like having a kid constantly hanging off your leg, "Dad." "Dad. "Dad." "Dad."

          "What?!?!?"

          "You got an email."

          (rolls eyes)

          I don't like being a slave to my email; I like to read email on MY time preferably when I'm lounging in my chair and sipping back an ice tea.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:22PM (#23019736)
      plus they'll figure out a way to get myspace on it and totally ruin it.
    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:03PM (#23019998) Homepage Journal
      Not only did you not read the article, you misread the submission. You seem to have taken the question "Why can't the world be happy with a good old desktop?" at face value. Please go read this [wikipedia.org] and give it another try.

    • I don't think the article is stupid, but I do agree that the ball is rolling and there is pretty much no way to stop it baring a global catastrophe or some sort of comprehensive religious fervor.
  • obligitory (Score:2, Funny)

    by Missing_dc (1074809)
    I for one am thankful for my PC

    and my laptop, and server and web appliances, and coke^h^h^h^hredbull machine that knows my debit car by heart
  • 20 years from now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:17PM (#23019692) Homepage Journal
    20 years from now the mobile computer of the future will have 100+mbps wimax, be the size of a RAZR, contain a holographic projector (that also works in 2D to save on battery), and a built in laser keyboard. We're halfway there, with the upcoming 3G iPhone. Bluetooth laser keyboard is already avalible, and the iPhone has audio/video out via the port on the bottom. The Mini-Note has a son-of-PCMCIA slot for wireless internet everywhere already. You can't really get much practically smaller than that without losing durability or keyboard size (IBM thinkpad butterfly keyboard, anyone?) The age of the "anywhere PC" has arrived - just bring extra batteries. The home PC will always exist in some fashion, be it the XBOX 980 or PS9 for more immersive content, the workstation for creation of such content, but I think the personal machine will be be a laptop of EEE size with capability to sync with the multi/mega-terabyte home server (which may or may not be hosted remotely, say, as part of your gmail account). A chubby thin client.
    • Re:20 years from now (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:05PM (#23020006) Journal
      I would hope that 20 years from now, the higher end portable computers would have a direct retinal link or contact lens screen, and use sub-vocals for input. Why look at a screen when you could look at augmented reality? [howstuffworks.com] As you said, we are at least half way to the mobile computer you describe with the next generation of the iPhone, I expect that tech to arrive in the next five to ten years. I expect twenty years from now for computer interfaces to be integrated in an almost cyborg like fashion.
      • Re:20 years from now (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:15PM (#23020052) Homepage Journal
        Sure, in 20 years those sort of implants will be available, but having one will make you look like the fat guy wearing his shirt tucked in, comfortable socks under sandals with his trusty treo attached to his belt. The vocal minority will now say "why do i need a holographic projector and full size keyboard in my cell phone? all i need is a 8mp camera, web browser, day planner! oh, and voice." and everyone else will just follow the trends of the uber computer that also still makes voice calls. It's going to take a lot longer than 20 years for implants to become the norm, IMO.
        • I couldn't help but think of this guy [ubergeek.tv]. So awesome.
        • by kabocox (199019)
          Sure, in 20 years those sort of implants will be available, but having one will make you look like the fat guy wearing his shirt tucked in, comfortable socks under sandals with his trusty treo attached to his belt. The vocal minority will now say "why do i need a holographic projector and full size keyboard in my cell phone? all i need is a 8mp camera, web browser, day planner! oh, and voice." and everyone else will just follow the trends of the uber computer that also still makes voice calls. It's going to
    • Given all the jaw dropping videos by johnny Lee (you know, wii vr headtracking) what makes you say that we will need keyboards in the future? at the very least, all we need is a camera and an LED projecting an image of a keyboard onto a flat surface to emulate a keyboard. You want to know where the future is headed? INTUITIVE. USER. INPUT. That's if they don't have our brains directly wired into our cell phones in 20 years anyways.
      • by Hadlock (143607)
        all we need is a camera and an LED projecting an image of a keyboard onto a flat surface to emulate a keyboard.
         
        Do a google search for "laser keyboard". I dare you. Or Ebay. I double dare you. Did you even read my post? Nub.
    • by khakipuce (625944)
      You are still thinking about a single mulit-function device, and yet experience throughout human history generally seems to indicate that we prefer to use single pupose, dedicated tools. My phone has a calendar, mp3 player etc, but I still have a diary and a separate mp3 player.

      Where I think this is going is that the computers will become "invisible" and we will have the "computer-less office" (i.e. one where you cant see the computers). Want to take notes, write them in your note book book (automatically

  • Lets all go home. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TeacherOfHeroes (892498) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:19PM (#23019718)
    "It was good enough for the PC generation."

    Horses were good enough for getting around with until someone came up with the idea of a car. I don't know why the idea that things are 'good enough' is so prevalent - complacency and familiarity maybe? This question smacks of sentiments like "in my day, we only got 3 TV stations - and we were GLAD for it". Some curmudgeon could start this conversation about any topic, really. What about CPUs - aren't they fast enough?

    I could go on, but I think my post is already good enough.
    • by Anguirel (58085) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:25PM (#23019758)
      Back in my day, Slashdot IDs only had 5 numbers, and that was good enough for us! You young whippersnappers, with your 6-digit IDs... And those durn kids still won't get off my lawn!
      • Back in my day, Slashdot IDs only had 5 [digits]

        Slashdot IDs still only have 5 digits. What, am I the only one who looks at numbers in the proper sexagesimal [wikipedia.org] format?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anguirel (58085)
          Technically, digit would imply base-8, base-10, or base-20, being based off the original meaning of finger or toe. You got me when I used numbers in the first part, though.

          Whippersnappers, with their new-fangled math, counting on things that aren't fingers or toes...
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by gatzke (2977)
        Get of my lawn!
        • 'Cause when I was a lad there was only a handful of users on the internet so we didn't need numbers, as you knew everyone by name anyway. All you had to remember was a few IP numbers for the ftp servers and everyone's email adress just had their first name with @.[edu|com|org|net] In fact most of the time you could guess someone's email address and get it right.

          Of course some jerks spoilt it by introducing gophers, and veronicas and wais and then those crazy CERN clowns tipped mosaic onto Mr Clark and young
          • by gatzke (2977)
            I had a crappy student email at Georgia Tech. I was "gt4236a". I still want to get that tattooed somewhere.

            Ma Tech: You are a number, not a name. You aren't even a unique number, many had to share (thus the letter a on the end).
      • by Tom (822)

        Back in my day, Slashdot IDs only had 5 numbers, and that was good enough for us!

        Young kids today. Coming in, blowing everything out of the size it's ought to be, and then go around claiming it's good enough! It was good enough long before you fit in!

        In fact, that ain't funny at all, it's the whole story. It's "good enough" if it's what you're used to. For someone new, it probably isn't. For someone who's kept the ability to get a new perspective, it probably isn't.

        20 years ago, I would have killed for a computer half as powerful as the ones from last year. But today, I wouldn't bother

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:37PM (#23019864)
      Not everyone wants faster CPUs. Faster CPUs are only important in some situations.

      The same advances that give us faster CPUs also allow us to have the same speed CPUs cheaper and using less power. That allows the CPUs to be used in situations that were not possible a few years back.

      You can now buy 32-bit single-chip CPUs for less that $1 (including RAM, flash etc), and 8-bit micros for less than 50c. These won't run Linux, but they can still do a lot of useful work.

      Low power is a very important consideration in many applications. Some products will live on a single factory installed coin-sized battery for their whole lifetime (5 years +) without needing a recharge. Achieving this requires very careful and frugal coding and is not something you'd try with Linux etc (well not for a long time), and might not even use C for.

      Thus there is still a need for the curmudgeons that can build a system that has only 100 bytes of RAM and a 50kHz CPU and always will be.

      • by TeacherOfHeroes (892498) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:53PM (#23019956)

        Not everyone wants faster CPUs. Faster CPUs are only important in some situations.
        Okay, that might not have been the best example, but it seems to me a common one that is raised in cases where that reasoning doesn't always apply - where there is a benefit to faster CPUs. I've seen that argument for years about home computers, but surprise surprise, people find new uses for having a more powerful processor in modern computers. People can now play complex games, watch movies, make movies, etc... There was a time not too long ago when computers would have struggled to play a youtube video.

        Thus there is still a need for the curmudgeons that can build a system that has only 100 bytes of RAM and a 50kHz CPU and always will be.

        I don't really see this as curmudgeony as much as I see it as practical. Sometimes all you need is 100 bytes of RAM.

        But the submitter seems to be saying flat out that all this ubiquitous computing stuff is useless, and you should all just get a desktop instead. Instead of saying "be practical, use the right tool for the right job", the message seems to be the rather subjective notion that "This ubiquitous computing is nonsense; it can't possibly do anything new of value, or do anything better than a desktop PC, so just get a Desktop PC."

        Nonsense. Just like with more powerful processors in home PCs, someone will think of something, if they haven't already.
        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:21PM (#23020096)
          You're thinking right.

          Embedded space is very different to desktop space. Unless you're a Luddite, your world is full of embedded CPUS: phones, garage door openers, microwave ovens, refridgerators etc etc. People have decided that the price point for a computer is somewhere in the $500-$1500 range and keep trying to sell more and more capability in that price range.

          You don't need a very sophisticated CPU to run a washing machine and "enough is enough". An 8-bitter costing less than a buck will do it. As a design engineer I might have the choice to replace the 8-bit micro in the last design with a 32-bitter at the same price, or a new 8-bit part that costs half the price of the old one. Unless we're adding new features that need extra CPU, the 32-bit micro won't make the washing machine work any better so really adds no customer value, so I would choose the cheaper 8-bit micro and the company saves on material costs.

          The desk-top software writers might think that Moore's Law will always give them more CPU power, RAM etc and thus efficient coding does not matter. That thinking is OK if you accept that current prices are OK. However Moore's Law can be ridden the other way too: the same resources are getting cheaper and cheaper. We're limited in what solutions we can consider when we have to pay $1 for the micro + battery. But when we can get a micro and battery for 20c or 10c we can suddenly consider using a micro for a whole lot of new applications. To keep riding that wave needs frugal thinking. People who think in gigaHz and gigabytes need not apply.

          • by gatzke (2977)
            I think Moore's law was originally about cost, that the number of components per cost doubles every year or two.

            So really, this drop tp having cheap 32 bit procs is really Moore's law.

            And it really looks like we are hitting a wall in top end speed. 1 GHz was top back at the turn of the century. Now we are still doing only around 3 GHz. Of course, they are now 64 bit and multi core, but I am not sure the effective serial speed has increased at the traditional Moores law pace, although the economic version
            • You don't get more speed, you do get more power. How useful this is depends largely on if you're software supports multi threading. Most of the software I run doesn't, the software that does, wouldn't be runnable at all without multicore.

              Multicore is also useful if you need an entire core devoted to running bloated background processes.
              • You can run multi-threaded processes without having a multi-core CPU, but it's only efficient for processes that do a lot of waiting for I/O to complete. I remember a Usenet binaries downloading program called Newsbin that could be configured to run, I think, eight thread simultaneously. You're right about multi-core allowing multi-threaded processes that need lots of number crunching, though.
        • by NoMaster (142776)

          There was a time not too long ago when computers would have struggled to play a youtube video.

          And there's a time, right now, when a 1.25GHz Core2Duo struggles just to run Vista. Yet an ancient 800MHz G4 runs OSX 10.4.x just fine. That sort of suggests that the problem lies not with the hardware, but what we're asking of it - and, perhaps more pertinently, why we're asking it to do it.

          Instead of saying "be practical, use the right tool for the right job", the message seems to be the rather subjective notion

        • but surprise surprise, people find new uses for having a more powerful processor in modern computers.

          New "uses":

          Windows 98
          Windows XP
          Windows Vista
          Windows 7

          No surprise. Just a couple of Windows' generations ago, 256 MB of system memory was considered wildly excessive. Vista laughs out loud at that spec. Just to run the plain OS!
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      What about CPUs - aren't they fast enough?

            Also don't forget that 640k should be enough for anybody.
    • Re:Lets all go home. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dogzilla (83896) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:29PM (#23020142) Homepage
      Agree with Teacher. You could just as easily have said "Why can't the world be happy with a good old mainframe?". I'm getting kind of annoyed by all these people who were on the cutting edge of tech, advocating radical change 10 years ago, and today are advocating holding back the tide of change they rode to success. It was annoying when the boomers did it, and it's just as annoying when GenXers do it today.

      My guess is it stems from the same source - a fear of change, fear of becoming irrelevant and/or having your skills become outdated. Learn to surf or drown, but shut up in either case.
      • by mgblst (80109)
        People get to an age, and they don't like change anymore. Simple fact of life. The older you get, the more resistant you get.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, my 3.2ghz quad core isn't fast enough. It still doesn't do everything I want done instantly.
    • by bwchato (1269588)
      you could go on and on but so could the guy that said what happened to the old desktop.If i can't have my two 22" monitors it is'nt worth losing my eyesite looking at a little piece of shit
    • by bwchato (1269588)
      by the way,i had 6 TV channels.I'm 56 and have been on disability for 8 years.In that time i figured out how to use,fix,and build computers by myself.If they keep making things smaller i won't be able to build my own because of the size and the fact that a lot of things that were fixed in my time are thrown away now.
    • I don't know why the idea that things are 'good enough' is so prevalent - complacency and familiarity maybe?
      It totally depends on the person. I always turn such sentences around.

      Statement: "It was good enough for the PC generation!"
      Answer: "So, why don't you need improvements?"

      This calls upon the person making the statement to think about what he said. Because often that's not the case at all.
    • by l0b0 (803611)

      Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

      The Salmon of Doubt [wikiquote.org], by Douglas Adams

    • by turing_m (1030530) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:49AM (#23021690)
      Very often some things are "good enough" for a long period of time. Some examples:
      -AK-47, built in 1947
      -Subsonic passenger jets
      -The horse, fastest way to get around for thousands of years.
      -C, SQL
      -The car, versus the "flying car".

      Why development of something plateaus has everything to do with limits to optimization, efficiency, network effect, cost benefit analysis, diminishing marginal returns, return on investment, political and legislative situations. Complacency and familiarity are important, but there are certainly many, many more factors involved.

      Sure I'd like an infinitely fast CPU, a commercially viable fusion reactor and a flying car while I'm at it. Some things are hard, and breakthroughs are difficult to schedule.
  • I'm looking for a wearable video camera. Resolution can be low, as well as frame rate. 320x240 at 6 frames per second would be enough. It should store on an SD or micro SD card. Maybe it can run from a watch battery or a rechargeable battery (recharged via USB maybe). The smaller the better.

  • While I thought the products listed at sparkfun were interesting, it neither is it an article, nor does it add to the actual article.

    If I was more clever, I would find a good pun in that the only thing it did 'add' was an 'ad'.

  • Desktop? what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gideon Fubar (833343) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:27PM (#23019780) Journal
    As soon as i get a decent set of HUD glasses and a nice cording keyboard, i'm throwing my phone and laptop away and building a gargoyle rig.
  • So what... Now I can literally keep my email in my pocket? Doesn't that defeat the idea?
  • BUG ME NOT.... TFA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    FOR his doctoral thesis, Rafael Ballagas worked with other students to build a magic wand that gave tours of Regensburg, Germany. Tourists could wander around the city, wave the wand to âoecast a spellâ and hear a voice tell them the history of where they were standing.

    It sounds like magic, but the truth is a bit more mundane. The wand is just a cellphone, said Mr. Ballagas. âoeItâ(TM)s packaged in a shell. Itâ(TM)s got a skin,â he explained.

    The cellphone keeps track of tourist
    • "...A platform like this opens up new business models and opportunities for advertising..."
       
      That's why many of us don't want to embrace new technologies!
  • It struck me as odd how these titles all fell into place, one after the other. Makes me wonder what the NEXT title will be. If it uses the word "Singularity", I'm digging a hole somewhere.

    Here... you decide...
    • US Does Suprisingly Well in Internet Survey
    • Microsoft Discloses 14,000 Pages of Coding Secrets
    • [M$] MyLifeBits to Store Every Moment of Your Life
    • The Future of Ubiquitous Computers

    Maybe it will be "Singularity" posts 'Hello, World' to Slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mysticgoat (582871)

      Yes, I've been wondering if we will recognize the singularity when it arrives.

      If it comes in through the front door, I'm sure I'll be able to spot it, but what if it sneaks in through the back door, like a botnet of 400,000+ zombies named Kraken? Maybe it is so hard to trace botnets like Kraken and Storm back to their controllers, because maybe they are entirely self-controlled.

      In today's world, any sentient AI with the intelligence of an average 6 year old human would have sense enough to stay in deep

      • by Lijemo (740145)

        Yes, I've been wondering if we will recognize the singularity when it arrives.

        I'm going to say no. Who's to say it hasn't come and gone already? Multiple times, even?

        What would a bilogially-equivalent-to-modern-humans pre-agrigarian homo sapien think of modern daily life? How about a resident of ancient Babylon, or of medeval Europe?

        Hundreds of people with thousands of geographic miles between them are participating in this conversation. I can converse instantly with sound, and even video, with anyone almost anywhere in the world. I travel down the highway at 70mph-- not only w

        • by Chrontius (654879)
          It's not the far side of the singularity yet, though we're definitely ramping up for the next one. It's not that the first-order knowledge and power has gone asymptotoic - to be fair, it's pretty close to that. It's that the second-order rate of change is going to go asymptotic soon, and we'll have to get used to that. To be fair, I think spoken language, and then written language can both be argued as singularity events, as both reshaped the world, or at least our ability to relate to it.
      • The sequence didn't get any better.
        • Who Pays for Rebuilding the Internet?
          SingularNet can't, so it has to have humans do it.

          Experts Hack Power Grid in Less Than a Day
          That means that SingularNet can do it in less than a second. "If you do not do the above (rebuild the internet), I will drop the power in the capital and major trade centers!"
        • eBay Australia Makes PayPal Mandatory
          Start with Australia as a pilot project. Move it to China, Europe, finally, America. Once you control their money, you co
  • ...that senses arousal and gets miss robot ready for action for you.
  • Ubiquitous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steveha (103154) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:37PM (#23019860) Homepage
    Some of the ideas in the article are just silly. I would never, ever accept a free umbrella that whispers ads to me; especially if my free hat was whispering different ads. The alert for incoming rain is sort of cool, but not at the price of whispered ads.

    What I really want is a PDA that aggregates everything. The PDA can alert me to incoming rain; I can use it to pay for things; I can use it to check my mail; and of course I can use it as a PDA. A screen and a stylus is the form factor I really want, not an umbrella with a flashing red light.

    Your own PDA is a great way to pay for things. It can be much more secure than the current system, where anyone who copies down your credit card number can use it. And I'd sooner trust my own PDA that I carry around to be secure, rather than punching in a passcode to a computer system not under my control. (Google search for "ATM skimmer"; thieves have figured out how to hack an ATM to copy the information from your ATM card, and a hidden camera records your passcode. Then they 0wn your ATM account.)

    I read a short story where police wore eye-protecting goggles that had an "enhanced reality" heads-up display. A computer picked out possible weapons and made glowing spots that superimposed over what the cop was seeing; the computer could zoom and give a sort of telescopic vision. I imagine that will happen someday. Even sooner than that, I expect police to start carrying guns that log when they are fired (timestamp, and maybe even GPS coordinates).

    If you want a silly take on ubiquitous computing, read some Ron Goulart [wikipedia.org] stories, which include things like a camera that argues with the user: "I don't want to take a picture of that, it's boring, point me at a good looking girl or something."

    steveha
    • by Psychotria (953670) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:54PM (#23019960)

      I would never, ever accept a free umbrella that whispers ads to me
      Which is why it is important to always line your umbrellas with tinfoil.
    • by maxume (22995)
      It depends a lot on how hard it is raining. I guess it might make the choice more difficult if you could only get the umbrella by having it glued to your hand, because short of that, you could just chuck it on the ground when you didn't need it anymore.
    • What I really want is a PDA that aggregates everything.

      Until you lose/break/forget to backup/gets stolen/virii infected

      Then someone has EVERYTHING on you. Not just the $$ in your savings/checking account.

      The more you consolidate the bigger the impact when something happens to it. You wonder why mainframes have so much built in redundancy, because when they go down, everybody feels it. You think your $100 (which you no doubt will demand that it costs) PDA will have mainframe reliability?

      btw: Don't forget to bring extra batteries.

    • by syousef (465911)
      I would never, ever accept a free umbrella that whispers ads to me; especially if my free hat was whispering different ads

      You wouldn't? Most people would! Then they'd break or drown the whispering voice on each device and laugh at the manufacturer. Small and cheap, sure. Small, cheap and durable? Hahahahahahaha!!!
  • by cmacb (547347) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:41PM (#23019886) Homepage Journal
    This is a subject CMACB is interested in, but he is tied up right now. I'll let him know about it tomorrow morning at breakfast.

    --

    CMACB's toaster
    • by DeadChobi (740395)
      You forgot to ask us if we wanted toast.
      • by PPH (736903)

        You forgot to ask us if we wanted toast.

        Ask the DVD player. I'm busy finalizing plans with SkyNet.

        --
        CMACB's toaster

  • Transhumanism? (Score:1, Interesting)

    I kind of see these advances as a slow march into transhumanism [wikipedia.org]. We have more and more personalized data at our fingertips and a desire for even more. We want to be as close to a way of accessing all this information as possible.

    What is the next step? If they could implant devices that allowed you to access the vast pools of data available would you? I know I would love to have a device that allowed my brain to talk to Google.
    • Re:Transhumanism? (Score:4, Informative)

      by AugustZephyr (989775) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:39PM (#23020654)

      I kind of see these advances as a slow march into transhumanism [wikipedia.org]. We have more and more personalized data at our fingertips and a desire for even more. We want to be as close to a way of accessing all this information as possible.


      I fully agree. We are definitely heading in this direction. this progression toward transhumanism may very well lead to a Technological Singularity [wikipedia.org]. At such a point our current definitions of what is human and machine will cease to be valid. Some even argue that this merging of man and machine can lead to immortality [wired.com].
  • Ubiquitous motors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:15PM (#23020050) Homepage
    Little motors are everywhere--in electric toothbrushes, electric shavers, camcorders, disk drives, CD player.

    Why do we need little motors in everything?

    There used to be just a few big motors in most peoples' houses: the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine, and the refrigerator. Then suddenly they started using them in things like electric drills, blenders, and food processors. And then tiny motors started showing up everywhere.

    What was wrong with the old way? What's the fetish with motors, motors everywhere? Just because modern magnetic materials and electronic controls make it possible doesn't mean we should do it.
    • Replying to kill moderation. Hit the wrong one.
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Nobody cares about motors (except, maybe, for you), they care about what they can do. People think electric toothbrushes are better for their teeth, they prefer electric shavers, they like the ability to record movies....

      Are you saying we should stop enjoying these things, or we should just limit or enjoyment.
    • A hundred years ago, a home electric motor was the height of modernity, kind of like a home personal computer. A centralized station where you had all kinds of attachments to do all kinds of different jobs.

      Home electric motors disappeared. Personal computers are going to disappear as well, because the cost of computing will become low enough that the processors get incorporated into special purpose devices.
    • by Chrontius (654879)
      Because I can't spin a DVD by hand consistently at the right speed? Because electric toothbrushes clean better than manual ones?
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:23PM (#23020110) Homepage

    Most of the "ubiquitous computing" ideas are silly. There's all this information collection, but the systems don't have the actuators or smarts to do much with the information except bother some human.

    Something you can buy right now, yet few buildings have, is really good HVAC control. You can get air sensors that sense temperature, humidity, CO, CO2, and particulates. You can get heating units, fans, dampers, and chillers that will talk to a network. You can get control systems that can manage all this to provide an optimal indoor environment as occupants come and go. A system like this will lower HVAC costs. Yet such systems are rare.

    We still don't have good cleaning robots. The iRobot Scooba is about as good as it gets, but it's very dumb, frequently gets stuck, and can't refill, clean, or recharge itself.

    Most of the "kitchen automation" stuff is just inventory control, not automated cooking.

    The "ubiquitous computing" people haven't even been able to deliver a good meeting room automation system, one that gets lights, audio, and projector to play well together.

  • by sidragon.net (1238654) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:23PM (#23020112)

    There is an important distinction between independent gadgets responding to simple environmental conditions, and the pervasive information architecture shared across ubiquitous computing devices. The latter can be loosely described as systems that continuously record metrics about you and your tasks, then interact with disjoint systems to establish needs or contribute to goals.

    Imagine this hypothetical scenario. Your car measures engine performance, tire wear, oil quality (and so on) to determine when maintenance is necessary. It also learns your route habits and shares that information with automotive shops which may provide the necessary service. Those shops can then respond with offers to win your business and—perhaps—preemptively order whatever parts and materials are necessary. Following acceptance, computers on behalf of both parties will arrange optimal schedule blocks based on previous trends (e.g., where you go and when, spatially proximate tasks, historical service times).

    It helps to think of this in terms of “what you see is what you need” as applicable to all actors. Your information is ever-present and optionally shared, with other agents in such an environment doing the same. With intelligent use of that data, interactions may emerge organically and with little or no effort on the part of the participants.

    At the moment, this is far outside our technological reach, and goes well beyond gimmicky talking umbrellas.

  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:16PM (#23020490)
    ..you should wash them immediately.

    "Shut up Linux underpants! I'm on a date!"
  • I hope someone can answer this question, there was an 80s movie about a guy who wired his house along ubiquitous computing lines. Then, the computer went sentient (and crazy) on him. I've been trying to find the title for years now.
    • Demon Seed [imdb.com]?
  • but still recognize the importance of computing in modern lifestyle.
  • by jandersen (462034) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:42AM (#23021662)
    This seems to be yet another fantasy about a future where technology does all the work and people are more less passive spectators. Always being on-line, always having your computer tell you things, never having to go and discover things by yourself - is that really what we want? I'm not convinced - do I want to be besieged by what to me looks a lot like advertising all the time? The answer is definitely a big "NO" to that. Do I want to be accessible through the net at all times? I don't think so. Enhanced senses that can 'see' or 'hear' not just what the natural eyes and ears can, but also, say UV, IR, radio, microwaves etc etc?

    You know, much as one can fantasize about living in a science fiction world, I can't see that it would be all that good in reality. All these extensions to our abilities are, in a way, extra senses - and we simply don't have enough brain capacity to process it. Take our visual cortex, for example: it has a certain size that matches the visual ability of our eyes. There is no extra capacity in there; it wouldn't make evolutionary sense to build in more capacity than needed, as it would cost resources that could have been used more productively elsewhere. If we add artificial 'sensory apparatus' to our natural set of senses, it will take capacity away from other areas - maybe we would be able to 'see' the internet, but we would not be able to see or hear the physical world anymore, or something like that.

    This kind of technology won't make us happier - the way to be happy is by learning to live in the body and the reality that we find ourselves in. We won't escape that until we die.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yev000 (985549)
      "never having to go and discover things by yourself"

      When was the last time you actually discovered something that has never been discovered before, by yourself, without any aids? Data is always going to be generated by the makers; machines just format this data into more usable form. Some discoveries can not be made at all without aid of computers. Sure, humans can look at things, but it takes years of computer analysis to actually discover that what you were staring at for years was actually quite a lot mo
      • by jandersen (462034)

        When was the last time you actually discovered something that has never been discovered before, by yourself, without any aids?

        It may be clever to twist what I said to sound like I talked about making new, scientific discoveries, but I think you know better than actually believing that. But, if you must, one could take the cramped, philosophical view, that when I discover a new, exciting cafe in a Paris backstreet, it is an entirely new discovery to the world, since the combination of this discovery and myself has never occurred. But I don't want to sound silly - I prefer to trust that those intelligent enough to use a computer ar

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      Dishwashers and Laundry machines are technology that does all the work and people more or less just watch them. They are fantastic. I don't want to go back to the days where most people could only afford one or two shirts, and only afford to have them cleaned a couple of times a month(maybe...).

      Surely that isn't the kind of thing you are talking about, but it is the kind of thing that is going to come out of the tireless march of technology. I am sure that there will be lots of people that wrap themselves i
  • by Nephrite (82592)
    It's "cool" to have computers with blinkenlichten everywhere, but wait, some day it would be cool to not have a computer. See "Diamond Age..." by Neal Stephenson
  • You always know where you are. The police always know where you are. Your glasses are way smarter than you'll ever be. Your house will build itself, halfway you can decide to add an extra bathroom, since you came into some extra money. Elections are held in 15 minutes. You virtual drive through Spain will seems more real than real life. The difference between maps and the world disappears. The address space of IPv6 is getting too small, IPv8 announced. Every molecule on earth clamours for an IP address. Sci
  • by Tom (822)

    Why can't the world be happy with a good old desktop? It was good enough for the PC generation.

    Exactly because of that. "Good enough" has been the attitude of the "PC generation". But "good enough" isn't good enough once you enter the real world. The one where money counts and time matters. Most people don't have time to constantly worry about the misbehaving machine, to constantly reboot or reinstall windos, or bother with crashes, bugs and problems. Nowhere is that accepted, except in computers, where people accept it because they don't know computers any different.

    But the more computers you have,

  • This is a paraphrase of opening of Arthur C Clarke's 2001 Space Odyssey novel "Behind every human alive stands 30 ghosts", a strong statement of the antiquity of humanity.

    By the time I die, there'll be another zero to this number. Where do you stop counting? Is an "active RFID" in a credit card or merchasize tag a nano-computer?
  • ...happy fun tech!

    I want agents. I want them to have the intelligence of maybe a young kid, but with huge memory and processing power. They can do stuff for me, like:

    find out where Bob is,

    what is the top opinion surrounding subject X,

    purchase this item for me, not cheap ass, but almost cheap ass, and get it here by next week

    connect me to Jane, via my internal IRC / Text interface, we need to talk

    tell me when Frank is in the building

    tell me when Joe does something he normally does not do, and that implies

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

Working...