Ubiquitous Computing

When I get home, my mobile goes on the side, I don’t cart it around the house with me. From my observations that’s not unusual. I have plenty of computers in my house; a desktop, a server, a media centre and a tablet (plus a couple of others that don’t get used much). I still find myself sat on the sofa wanting to look something up only to find my tablet is in the kitchen, or being in the kitchen wanting to listen to some music and finding I’ve left my tablet in the lounge (I know, a massive hardship).

It got me thinking. With the cost of computers dropping and things like tablets and smartphones (see my recent post) dropping so low, how long before we have computers everywhere besides the likes of smartphones? It’ll start with people having an old smartphone or an earlier generation tablet or an old laptop that gets left in a room so it’s always there when you want to pick it up.

You can already buy computers that display through mirrors so you can check out the weather, scores, gossip or stocks while you brush your teeth. Soon you’ll be used to having access to a computer wherever you are (I don’t think Google Glass is the answer to this, longer term we may have contact lenses or, even further ahead, signals beamed along the optic nerve, but we’re a fair way off both I suspect). No matter which room you’re in you’ll be able to pick up a device to check your email or whatever.

As the price drops further on these devices (or, more precisely, the quality of the cheap devices improves) we’re going to start doing more and more on screens, from reading recipes to instruction manuals for flat-pack furniture (I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of printers, just that we’ll print out less).

We’re already well on the way to ubiquitous computing and with the rise of tablets and smartphones guiding the way more device manufacturers are going to be adding functionality (how long before you can control your washing machine from an app rather than a control panel?). So most households will soon own multiple computer devices, not just for each person, but for each room (expect to see some for specialist applications like kitchens and bathrooms).

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