A Mobile Era

Technology Review has a nice post on the current state of the mobile phones industry, with emphasis on the social implications. You can find it here. While reading it I was thinking of the time when mobile phones were not as smart as today, PDAs were much simpler than the cheapest phones of the last five years, I was building my first wearable computer and was holding Open Day AR demonstrations in the University of Essex. I remember the groups of parents that came to see the work done in the Vision and Synthetic Environments (VASE) Laboratory and how impressed they seemed, whenever I told them that the computers of the future will be our mobile phones. Small, context-aware, pro-active, always tethered to some form of network and operational for large periods of time. Of course, this was not my prediction but more or less what all researchers in mobile, wearable and ubiquitous computing envisioned back in the previous couple of decades.

The article from TR summarizes the current state of mobile phones, mentioning how all of the aforementioned ‘features’ and how they are currently being encountered. Notably, as Jaffrey Rayport, the article’s author states, we are outsourcing our memory to our devices. More and more information, like phone numbers, addresses, location notes and task-lists are stored in those tiny gizmos instead of our head. Our decisions are often automated through criteria based searches where as our collaboration and communication patterns are much more immediate compared to the past.

This is indeed the era of mobility. An era where we are not anymore pinned to a location but mobile, unthethered and immersed in a cloud of information. Instead this time, the information that concerns us is pinned to our environment. Kind of like the notice board, back in the university, during those demonstration days.