The Lure Of Ubiquitous Mobile


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  • The purpose of this talk is to explain what ubiquitous computing is and get you guys thinking about how we can leverage its principles to make even more awesome applications.
  • So, in Washington D.C. worked for a company called kajeet. kajeet is an MVNO similar to Virgin Mobile or Boost except that it is a pre-paid cell phone company meant for kids. After I left kajeet, a friend and I built a site called Yappd. It’s best described as a twitter-clone that allowed people to post photos. We tried to emphasize the use of mobile phones to sent photos to show people what you were doing. In 2007 we actually ended up selling Yappd to kajeet. kajeet sadly hasn’t done anything with it because the legal issues with kids, cell phones, and pictures didn’t really mix all that well.
  • I’m currently the Director of Mobile Solutions at Intridea. Intridea is also based out of Washington D.C.. We are a web and mobile products and services company.
  • Some of our products include applications like, a microblogging solution for businesses.
  • Scalr, which allows you to take advantage of Amazon’s EC2 service without poking your eyeballs out.
  • CrowdSound, which allows your customers to leave feedback on your applications.
  • ... and MediaPlug which allows you to offload long user uploads and do complex transcoding and manipulations automagically without your users having to leave your site.
  • So, what exactly is ubiquitous computing?
  • Here’s a quote from Mark Weiser, who is the father of Ubiquitous Computing.
  • Mark Weiser coined the phrase, Ubiquitous Computing while he was at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 1988.

    Ubiquitous computing will be passive and have the ability to essentially of fade into the background of our lives.
  • Ubiquitous computing is also known as ‘everyware’.

    Weiser was describing ‘everyware’ as “in every thing” rather than just “in every place”. Every day objects, such as news papers, coffee cups, etc. would have processors in them, collecting data and possibly allowing us to interact with it in some way.
  • According to Mark Weiser, computer-human interaction can be categorized into three different waves.
  • This was when we had only a few computers in the world and those who actually used them were highly skilled individuals.
  • This was when we had one computer at every desk for personal or business-related activities. Computers were connected to the internet, but at the time everything was mostly wired.
  • His third stage was Ubiquitous Computing -- and we’re starting to see this all around us. We already have many devices embedded invisibly around us (in our cars, watches, ovens, etc.). We also have many forms of wireless communication that let our devices interact with each other.

  • The mere collection of just having many individual computing devices doesn’t yield much benefit to us.

    The devices would have the ability to send information to each other and use information based on our context and/or our location to accommodate our needs.
  • Our devices will be able stay connected with the internet and each other using existing technologies, such as Satellite, GPRS, 3G, WiMax, Bluetooth, etc.
  • Mark Weiser also called Ubiquitous Computing, “Calm technology”. Calm technology is when technology will recede into the background of our lives and is supposed to inform us -- but not demand our focus or our attention.
  • A tool has to be so good, fitting, and natural that we use it without even thinking about it.

  • If we look close enough, we can see that we have a large amount of technology embedded all around us. Take for instance this example of a new Mercedes.

  • An RFID system normally consists of tags, readers, and a computer system.
    The antenna helps scanners read the RFID tags.
    RFIDs are being used by retailers, automakers, hospitals, and our government.

    There’s a high cost for implementing RFID. Static discharge or high power magnetic surges could damage tags. There’s also social concerns regarding consumer’s privacy.
  • Kevin Warwick was the first person to have an RFID implanted into his body. He had the RFID implanted into his arm and used it to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer controlled devices based on his relative proximity.

    Also, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently decided to let hospitals inject into patients RFID chips storing their medical information.
  • Coming off of RFID’s, it’s important to mention that security is a big issue with ubiquitous computing.

    Authentication while connecting & communicating with other devices is an area of concern. In a ubiquitous world you want all of your home theater appliances to all have one remote control instead of separate ones for each device. If you buy a new appliance for your home theater system you want to make sure that you can program the device to your universal remote without your neighbor being able to do the same. Also, if you break your universal remote -- you want to be able to reprogram everything to a new one.

    Also, having access to your current context and location is an issue that brings up concerns about constant surveillance. RFID’s themselves can also be embedded into a garment, molded into plastic or rubber, etc.
  • So here are some of the key factors with ubiquitous computing.

    Intro before this.

  • Most of these features aren’t just for smart phones anymore. These features are trickling their way down to basic devices.
  • It’s always amazing to look back to see how far we’ve come over such a short period of time.
  • One thing we should realize here is that our mobile phones aren’t just phones anymore. They are all-in-one devices that aren’t just used primarily for making phone calls or text messages anymore.
  • We do much more than just make phone calls or text on our mobile devices these days.
    With all of the applications that we have available, what makes the actual Phone application any different?

    It’s not the only way for us to communicate and some of us use our devices for other things far more than phone calls or text messages.
  • Our mobile devices today are customized towards our own personal needs. A majority of us may all have the same phone but the applications that we have are mostly different. We depend on them for everyday tasks -- they are embedded into our own lifestyle.

  • The user interface for our mobile devices and the applications we develop are becoming more intuitive as time goes on. We constantly try to make things easier for the end user.
  • No other technology has become an integral part of our being in the last decade or the preceding years.
  • Mobile phones have progressed remarkably from mere calling machines into state-of-the-art platforms for sending and receiving e-mails, taking mega-pixel digital pictures, accessing Websites to get various kinds of information, and other purposes.
  • The iPhone was one of the first devices to bring multi-touch to the masses.

    When we want to zoom out, we pinch.
    When we want to go to the next photo we swipe the current photo out of the way.
    If we want to scroll up and down, we literally scroll up and down.

  • It’s intuitive and it’s natural.

    My mother, who’s almost 60 years old, only knew how to make and answer calls on her old BlackBerry Pearl. She’s had the device for quite a long time. I recently gave her my 1st gen iPhone and she figured out how to use it very easily.

    She was going through photos, looking through maps, etc. Navigating through the iPhone and interacting with it felt natural to her.

    It’s interesting to see how this gesture interaction, greatly affects the learning curve and usability of otherwise complex devices.

  • The operating systems on the devices from the previous slide are being designed around gesture interaction. Usability is supposed to become more intuitive for the user as time goes on.

    Also, as developers, the applications we create are also being geared towards this as well.
  • We are coming to the point now where we are always connected to the Internet, no matter where we go.
  • Our mobile devices allow us to stay connected to all of our services we use within the “cloud” wherever we are. We can access all of our social networks from our mobile devices. Also, storage, which is a limiting factor for most devices now, still -- an be augmented using services within the cloud -- like Amazon S3 for example.
  • With two devices paired using bluetooth, we can seamlessly walk into part of a room and have the devices interact with each other. A simple task like walking into your car and having your car automatically connect to your mobile phone is just a simple example.

    There’s so many other exciting things we’ll be able to do.
  • Using various methods of determining our location, our devices can now take advantage of this to create innovative location and context aware applications.
  • Contextually aware devices are “aware of” and respond to their context -- be it the situation or the environment.

    For hardware, we have to use the tools available on our devices. We have access to the user’s location, the device orientation using the accelerometer and some sort of proximity sensor -- possibly using bluetooth to find objects or people around you that you can interact with.

    Knowing the time of day can be important too, since the user may be occupied by personal or professional concerns depending on what time it is.

    Of course, we will need to have knowledge on what the user is trying to accomplish in the first place and take advantage of any preferences that we may have access to.
  • This is just a simple example showing Google Latitude for Android and Loopt for iPhone. They both take advantage using the device’s current location -- and the context itself is known since you know you’re going to be sharing your location.

  • One neat app I’ve seen lately is called Nearest Tube for the iPhone.

    The application takes advantage of the accelerometer, current location, and compass built into the iPhone 3GS to show you all the lines of the London underground and nearest train station. Really neat. If you haven’t seen it yet, search for the video.

  • Layar was created by the folks at SPRXmobile and is the first augmented reality application in the Android Marketplace. Just like Nearest Tube, it takes advantage of the camera, location, and the device’s orientation to show content layers created by users and companies. The video of it that’s out right now shows real estate property around you. It only works in the Netherlands right now.

  • We have many things in place but the mobile phone is not a completely ubiquitous device yet. For most applications, using our devices requires our focus and attention.

    I’m going to throw out some things that I thought I’d like to see in a mobile device in the future.
  • Device design could radically morph.

    We already have sunglasses with bluetooth built in that allows us to control our music and answer our phone calls. The problem here is that we would still have to pull our phones out of our pocket to view the screens on our devices. What if we could wirelessly embed what’s on our phone’s display, onto one of the lenses on our sunglasses?

  • Device design could radically morph.

    We already have sunglasses with bluetooth built in that allows us to control our music and answer our phone calls. The problem here is that we would still have to pull our phones out of our pocket to view the screens on our devices. What if we could wirelessly embed what’s on our phone’s display, onto one of the lenses on our sunglasses?

  • Playing games or watching a movie on your mobile phone shouldn’t have to be limited to the relatively small screen on your device. Imagine being able to stream the video wirelessly to a portable 10” display, your computer monitor or your home television.

    This would be great for video games, since developers could make it so that the screen on our mobile phones end up functioning only as a controller while the output is done on a bigger screen.
  • With the use of RFID’s or even Bluetooth, we can make our devices communicate with our every-day appliances in our home.

    We can also take advantage of Near Field Communication to use our phones as our main form of payment. By doing this we won’t have to lug around our credit cards and just have payments done by having your phone with you. They use this in Japan already and I know that O2’s been testing this in London using custom Nokia Phone’s embedded with Oyster Cards that allow them to do contactless payments using their phones.
  • With our phones in our pocket, we could use them as our keys to get us inside and start our cars. Our phones will remember our seating preferences & radio station preferences and adjust them automatically. Actually, last year a company in Japan offered a phone that allowed drivers to unlock their cars and start their engines.

    Another thing that’d be neat would be to have our phones automatically, turn on our lights in our house ...

  • Applications on our devices could adapt to our environment by handing-off tasks from one environment to another. We could be performing a task on our phone, then once we step into our car or our office we can continue the task from there.

    If we would like to interact with our application using other devices around us -- applications will need to be designed to allow multiple forms of user interaction, since they will essentially be hardware agnostic. At the very least, it’d be interesting if our applications could change in one way or another depending on our environment.
  • I’m using the SpringBoard on the iPhone as an example, but if we could take into account the time of day, we could custom tailor our applications to be more contextually aware.

    Going back one of the previous example of having our mobile device turn off on/off our lights -- we could have it set to automatically do that at a certain time.
  • Our phone numbers could end up being as ubiquitous as our e-mails. We won’t have to be limited by our area code or what country we live in. Our GMA’s also would not be limited to just numbers. They could be alphanumeric. Ultimately, our new GMA’s could even converge with our e-mail addresses. New devices that support this could ask the user whether or not they would like to initiate a voice or video call, an e-mail, or text.

  • zigbee is a simpler wireless area network compared to bluetooth that requires a low data rate - which is good for the battery - and has good security.
  • The Lure Of Ubiquitous Mobile

    1. 1. The Lure of Ubiquitous Mobile Brendan G. Lim E-Mail: Twitter: @brendanlim
    2. 2. Outline Introduction What is ubiquitous computing? How does mobile play into ubiquitous computing? How can we make our mobile devices more ubiquitous? What are some of your ideas?
    3. 3. What’s Ubiquitous Computing?
    4. 4. “Ubiquitous computing is the method of enhancing computer use by making many computers available throughout the physical environment, but making them effectively invisible to the user.” - Mark Weiser, the “father” of ubiquitous computing
    5. 5. Ubiquitous Computing “Post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities” -- Wikipedia Mark Weiser coined the term in 1988 based on his research on human-computer interaction Influenced mainly by Xerox PARC’s work in envisioning future environments
    6. 6. Ubiquitous Computing Everyware
    7. 7. 3 Waves of Computing
    8. 8. Mainframe Computing One computer for many people
    9. 9. Desktop Computing One computer for one person
    10. 10. Ubiquitous Computing Many devices per person
    11. 11. Ubiquitous Computing Technology View Computers embedded everywhere in the environment. They are designed to sense users’ presence and act accordingly. Mobile devices are to be designed to interact with the user and the digital environment. Human View Computers are relatively invisible and blend into the background (calm technology) Augment human ability
    12. 12. Interconnection of our devices allows for the benefit of ubiquitous computing
    13. 13. How Devices Will Communicate Satellite Mobile Phone Networking (GPRS, 3G, etc.) Wireless Local Area Networks Personal Networks Bluetooth ZigBee
    14. 14. “…we are trying to conceive a new way of thinking about computers in the world, one that takes into account the natural human environment and allows the computers themselves to vanish into the background.” - Mark Weiser, the “father” of ubiquitous computing
    15. 15. Technology will be embedded within our environment
    16. 16. Example of Computers Embedded, Invisibly, Within Our Environment HUD avig ation GPS N oo th B luet & o led Co ated he ats se iPo dc on s eat t ne cti it hin ymen s vity r s w eplo ning nso ag d t war Se irb l a at be for se d an
    17. 17. Example of Computers Embedded Within Our Environment Embedded RFID Allows for keyless entry and keyless ignition
    18. 18. RFID Tags Radio Frequency IDentification Automatic identification technology Consists of a microchip and an antennae Uses radio waves to automatically identify people or objects Can be either active or passive Invented in 1948
    19. 19. Kevin Warwick, Project Cyborg
    20. 20. Security Concerns Authentication when connecting to other devices Malware in ubiquitous computing environments Access to your current location & context Exposing private, personal information Device’s unknowingly embedded within your everyday items
    21. 21. Key Factors with Ubiquitous Computing User Interfaces / Interaction design Hardware design Operating Systems Wireless Communication Security + Privacy + Trust
    22. 22. How does Mobile play into Ubiquitous Computing?
    23. 23. Old reasons to have a mobile phone Make a phone call regardless of your location, as long as your mobile device has service.
    24. 24. New reasons to have a mobile phone Make a phone call regardless of your location, as long as your mobile device has service. Text & picture messaging Portable digital media player Browse the Internet Check your e-mail Camera GPS Navigation
    25. 25. We’ve come a long way
    26. 26. Our mobile devices aren’t just ‘phones’ anymore
    27. 27. They are more than just “communicators”
    28. 28. They are personal and inseparable
    29. 29. They are getting more intuitive
    30. 30. Some Mobile Stats Over 4 billion mobile subscribers today Over 60% of the global population Over 415 million 3G subscribers More mobile phones in the world than personal computers
    31. 31. Mobile phones are playing an important role in the transition to full-scale ubiquitous computing
    32. 32. via Flickr (Sigalakos)
    33. 33. Multi-touch allows for intuitive & natural user interaction
    34. 34. The hardware is getting easier to use
    35. 35. The software is getting easier to use
    36. 36. We are almost wirelessly connected everywhere we go
    37. 37. Personal area networks allow us to seamlessly connect to other devices
    38. 38. Our devices and applications are location and context aware
    39. 39. Context Awareness Physical context Logical Context Location Work Orientation Leisure Time of Day Activity Weather User Preference
    40. 40. Google Latitude Loopt
    41. 41. Nearest Tube An augmented reality app for the iPhone
    42. 42. Layar First augmented reality app for the Android
    43. 43. They are already being embedded in everyday devices LG GD910 Touch Watch Phone
    44. 44. What are some ways we could make our mobile devices more ubiquitous?
    45. 45. Hardware could be more invisible Displays embedded in eyewear
    46. 46. Hardware could be more invisible Phones embedded in clothing
    47. 47. Netbooks, Tablets, and Phones Could Converge ?
    48. 48. Leverage different methods of using wireless communication
    49. 49. Leverage different methods of using wireless communication Oyster Card Phone w/ Oyster Embedded
    50. 50. Leverage different methods of using wireless communication Can act as our keys, remember our preferences for our seating and favorite radio stations, etc.
    51. 51. Applications could hand-off from one environment to another
    52. 52. Take into account different contexts such as Time of Day During Work After Work
    53. 53. Emergence of “Global Mobile Addresses”
    54. 54. Summary Ubiquitous computing is already starting to appear all around us Our phones have changed into all-in-one devices The mobile devices we have today are leading the way for ubiquitous computing It’s up to us to leverage new technologies to make this happen
    55. 55. Things to Think About How could you make your next application even more context or location aware? How could we make device interaction more intuitive? What are some other ways our devices could interact with each other? What form factors do you think our mobile devices will end up taking?
    56. 56. What are some of your ideas? Any questions?