Where things are going

Two interesting articles caught my eye in the recent edition of Computing.

The use of RFID mobile at Manchester City FC – the article:- Man City & RFID

The use of WiFi enabled voice communication at Belfast Health Trust – the article:- WiFi in Belfast Royal Hospitals

While both in their separate ways enabled the end-user to have enhanced communication, access, and interactive experience. The thing that interested me was that once these devices entered the radius of communication, not only did the devices enable users to interact with services – as we would expect ; the communication environment also had pin-point accuracy on the location, movement and knowledge of entry and exit time of the device holder!

I think in the future IM will be seen as a grandfather technology, to the persistent pervasive connectivity of tomorrow. Presence awareness in the simplest IM infrastructure relies on constant server – client connections, and with the client having to be actively engaged (log-in authentication) with the IM infrastructure. Whilst connectivity will always be essential to enable user to user or system to user communication, these articles demonstrate that end-user activity of logging-on will not necessarily be a factor and the devices themselves will provision the engagement with the infrastructure. Of course for telephony communication such an infrastructure exists!

However, that is still a fair way off, for true device-neutrality with universal standard protocols for communication. Also there is a challenge to individual to whether they would like to participate in such universally connected society. If a person always has to carry a device to enable the pervasive environment to render services, and provide location specific information, not carrying a device will always by-pass such an interaction – and as such is an important freedom of will. The Doctor Who Epispodes – “Rise of the Cybermen” depicting a society with implanted blue tooth devices was enough to scare me of such a mechanism of interaction. To quote a letter to Computing “Whatever man can do today, another man can pervert tomorrow.” Still the choice and type of device is and important and interesting question and certainly the WiFi tag/badge and the mobile show the scope of the possible choices.

Going off on one and using my crystal ball, I can see the following becoming a possibility:

Domestically – imagine the washing machine or cooker communicating with the domestic network to inform you that the load is done or the joint is cooked; the notification appearing only the in the room with the relevant person – on the TV, computer VDU, mobile sms, DAB radio annoucement, shower radio, read-out on the hoover, lawn mower or dressing mirror?

In the IT community – when will autonomic computing use presence awareness for server tasks, activities and routines? If the router tasks had a presence, a sametime bot (sametime sentinel perhaps) could be monitor the task – looking for dead mail, hangs, etc. – and send alerts, issue quit and restart commands etc. Monitoring by itself for itself! Sounds like Terminator!

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