|14 Feb 2014||#1|
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Towards a world of ambient computing
First there was the PC, then there was ubiquitous computing and the Internet of Things. What comes next?
This isn't a manifesto. Nor is it a piece of futurist speculation. It's more of brain dump, flushing out things I've been thinking about for the last few weeks (and for the past couple of decades, really) trying to make sense of the wave of change and transformation that's moving through our industry.
First, let's set the scene with a little time travel.
Way, way back, in the distant heady days of the early 90s, I worked in a major telecoms research lab, as part of a team looking at how the local loop — that last mile between the exchange and your home — would evolve over the next couple of decades. It was a fascinating couple of years, spent experimenting with early wireless networks, debugging some the first DSL hardware in the UK, and running my own lab-sized cable TV network.
It was also a couple of years that made me realise two things.
First, that the networks we'd built to handle analogue voice and video were going to have to become digital networks, piping data to computers in our homes and in our pockets (and yes, I bought one of the first Apple Newtons in the UK to help me understand just what those pocket computers might become). And secondly, that those computers themselves were going to disappear, fading into the background like the piano chords in Brian Eno's Music for Airports, his pioneering work of what he called 'ambient music'.
The Internet of Things will consist primarily of machines talking to one another, with computer-connected humans observing, analysing and acting upon the resulting 'big data' explosion. Here's how the next internet revolution is shaping up.
The first of those things has happened. The second, well, that's what's happening right now — it's just that we've not put a name to it that everyone can agree on.
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