Thesis 58

As yet, everyware offers the user no compelling and clearly stated value proposition.

The last of the inhibiting factors we'll be discussing is the deep and as yet unaddressed disconnect that exists between the current discourse around ubiquitous systems, and any discernable desire on the part of meaningfully large populations for such systems.

Inside the field, however elaborated they've become with an embroidery of satisfying and clever details, we've told each other these tales of ubiquity so many times that they've become rote, even clichédbut we've forgotten to ascertain whether or not they make any sense to anyone outside the contours of our consensual hallucination.

HP's Gene Becker describes the issue this way:

The potential uses and benefits of ubicomp often seem 'obvious'; most of us in the field have spun variations of the same futuristic scenarios, to the point where it seems like a familiar and tired genre of joke. 'you walk into the [conference room, living room, museum gallery, hospital ward], the contextual intention system recognizes you by your [beacon, tag, badge, face, gait], and the [lights, music, temperature, privacy settings, security permissions] adjust smoothly to your preferences. your new location is announced to the [room, building, global buddy list service, Homeland Security Department], and your [videoconference, favorite TV show, appointment calendar, breakfast order] is automatically started.' And so on. Of course, what real people need or want in any given situation is far from obvious.

It's ironic, then, that one of the things that real people demonstrably do not want in their present situation is everyware. There is no constituency for it, no pent-up demand; you'll never hear someone spontaneously express a wish for a ubiquitous house or city. There are days, in fact, when it can seem to me that the entire endeavor has arisen out of some combination of the technically feasible and that which is of interest to people working in human-computer interaction. Or worse, much worse: out of marketing, and the desire to sell people yet more things for which they have neither a legitimate need nor even much in the way of honest desire.

What people do want, and will ask for, is more granular. They want, as Mark Weiser knew so long ago, to be granted a god's-eye view of the available parking spaces nearby, to spend less time fumbling with change at the register, to have fewer different remote controls to figure out and keep track of.

And, of course, everyware is the (or at least an) answer to all of these questions. But until those of us in the field are better able to convey this premise to the wider world in convincing and compelling detail, we can expect that adoption will be significantly slower than might otherwise be the case.

Everyware. The dawning age of ubiquitous computing
Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
ISBN: 0321384016
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 124
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