Ubiquitous computing: the computer for the 22nd century?

Ubiquitous computing has been on the agenda for a while now. This concept was in fact created by the much regretted Mark Weiser from Xerox PARC in the 1970s (see a reprint of the founding article, The Computer for the 21st century). It was really visionary.

The computer of the 22nd century?

UMPC Shift by HTC (photo M Oryl) - ubiquitous computing
The UMPC Shift by HTC (photo M Oryl) is paving the way for ubiquitous computing.

Many would sneer at the concept but look at it: Tablet PCs have already been on the market for at least 4 or 5 years. They haven’t been hugely successful but the concept is still evolving.

PDAs are now in their prime and evolving to become

  1. Smartphones and
  2. Ultramobile PCs such as the amazing HTC advantage which was released in April 2007 with a brand new flash-memory disk and a Windows mobile OS which enables to turn the machine on and off instantly (still too expensive though at €1000 per unit) or even
  3. The astounding ‘cellular book‘ by Polymer Vision.
  4. I will also recommend an article found on Time magazine describing Paul Allen’s latest UMPC initiative called Flipstart: A Billionaire’s Bet, the minicomputers war.

All these initiatives are in a way derived from Weiser’s vision of the ubiquitous computer, some thirty years ago.

Ubiquitous computing … any time soon

Unfortunately, none of them has really clinched it yet for us to throw away our clunky laptops and be able to connect and work and entertain ourselves freely, on the move, at a reasonable price.

But there is that sense though that we are getting there soon and that we will soon get a computer for the 22nd century at a reasonable price.

Click the following link to access Mark Weiser’s groundbreaking article in Scientific American. This is a 1990 reprint but the original piece was written a few years before that.

Ubiquitous computing
Download Weiser’s piece on Ubiquitous computing.
Yann Gourvennec
Follow me