Ubiquitous computing: visions, failures and new interaction rituals


For LIFT08 this year I’ll be co-organizing a workshop with Fabien Giardin and Nicolas Nova on the challenges and visions of ubiquitous computing. It’s fairly meta in the sense that we will look sideways at the near-future, forever just-out-of-reach promise of the seamlessly connected, always computing world. Pfft..yeah..right! That’s a good one. But, might it be necessary to have these barely possible visions? Do they help encourage the work that will never achieve the goals, but at least get some work done thinking about this sort of thing?

The integration of information processing into everyday objects and our environments, often referred to as “Ubiquitous Computing” has been fueled by strong visions such as Weiser’s ‘Calm Computing’ paradigm or Philips’ ‘Ambient Intelligence’. Nevertheless, the ever-increasing number of smart houses, intelligent assistants or mobile location-based applications find niches but has not yet lead to their adoptions by quotidian users. As stated by researchers such as Bell and Dourish, these visions might mislead us into an infinitely postponed proximate future that eventually distracts our attention to what is currently being used and its effects.
The purpose is to generate debate about the design and integration of ubiquitous systems based on case studies proposed from workshop participants. Moreover, we want to open up a debate around the future of those systems as well as the adoption by a large user base.

Full Workshop Description