Ubiquitous Computing Here We Come

I have long imagined a future with ubiquitous computing, such that any surface might be a video screen or be interactive, and might even change from video screen to an apparent traditional surface when not in use.

That requires a few things. One is amazing screen technology, which we’re working toward with thin LCD everywhere, and improvements in the direction of electronic paper. Another is extreme miniaturization, crossing into active nanotech. When things the size of ever-shrinking cell phones pack the power formerly found in desktop computers, we’re getting there. Finally, good wireless communication and integration between elements that might make up such ubiquitous computing or hardware interacting with same. That, too, is getting there, if not there already, including in the miniature, passive form of RFID.

My vision of the future was brought back to mind by Microsoft’s new Surface technology. I haven’t read the entire article, but the brief video is compelling and well worth watching. (Article noted via Glenn Reynolds.)

There are two drawbacks. One is all of this has to be kid-proof. You should see what the squirts do to our plain old coffee table, and what they can do to a computer given the chance. The other is that ubiquitousness meets inelasticity if you expect or create it to be excessively built in, say as part of construction materials.

Other than that, well… bring it on! Especially if I can use it to better control the housekeeping robot. Oh wait…