The history of failed business projections and predictions of disruptive technologies makes the business strategist’s job seem impossible, but we can at least see the general trends and estimate some prospective impacts, according to Bo Begole in his book Ubiquitous Computing for Business. Ubiquitous computing involves using technologies to bridge physical and electronic information spaces, increasing efficiencies in our personal, school and work lives.
After creating laser printing, Ethernet and the first personal computer, researchers at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center turned their attention to computing devices which would support effortless, convenient and pervasive computing. Prototypes included handheld devices, tablets and wall-sized computers and displays. Many of the types of computing envisaged by researchers are now being commercially implemented in smartphones.
Particular examples of business uses for ubiquitous computing described in the book include personalised activity-targeted marketing, a location-aware smartphone application for recommending leisure activities and restaurants, a location-aware application for using a smartphone to retrieve a document from a network and print it on a nearby network printer, an application for detecting a person’s presence and “interruptibility”, and a system for recording and displaying multiple images of a shopper wearing different clothing or jewellery, to assist the shopper in making selections.
As the book illustrates, computing is becoming simpler and more complicated at the same time. It is very difficult to predict future technology accurately, but the trends clearly include capturing a broad range of transaction data and using that to provide customised information and services to people based on their location and context via mobile devices. I found this to be an interesting book on a topic which is of great importance to businesses.