A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     What is e-Knowledge?   © SCUP 2003
  Page 20      

Pervasive Technology Changes How We “Experience” Knowledge (continued)



Chapter 1

What is e-Knowledge?

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W. Brian Arthur has observed that the Knowledge Revolution is in the early stages of amenity-building. Arthur points out that it took automobiles roughly half a century to reach amenity through the development of highway infrastructures, rules, and protocols, safe and easy-to-use equipment, and a host of other amenities of driving. Other, earlier revolutions like steam power and railroads followed similar patterns.

A revolution doesn’t really arrive until we structure our activities around the new technology—and the new technology adapts to us by becoming easy to use.

W. Brian Arthur, March 2002


Pervasive Computing

The predominant vision of ICT has focused on the development of mobile personal digital devices. Laptop and notebook computers, personal digital assistants, mobile telephone, and evolving generations of hybridized devices have enabled individuals to carry knowledge around with them and plug into wired or wireless networks to access knowledge repositories and communications. Every day, mobile digital devices are extending the capacity of individuals to communicate and engage knowledge anytime, any place.

An alternative vision of ICT development holds even greater promise for transforming the knowledge experience. The late Marc Weiser and his colleagues championed the vision of ubiquitous computing in which cheap, low-power computers with convenient displays are embedded into our everyday environments—homes, work, schools, automobiles, and public places. These devices are linked by wired/wireless networks and supported by applications software. This ubiquitous atmosphere of computing will pervade common places and interact with personal digital devices and/or computing devices carried or imbedded in clothing.


Pervasive computing will include sensing and recognition technologies that can deal with many inputs, including data, acoustics, image, motion and gestures, light, heat, moisture, and pressure. New kinds of unobtrusive interfaces between the physical and virtual world will be deployed to support these environments.

Pervasive computing could be the migration path for blending the physical and virtual worlds, achieving amenity. It will support many kinds of interfacing/communications — including speaking, gestures, and writing, not just keyboard and mouse through graphical user interface. Many inputs will be sensed automatically with no required human action or intervention. New kinds of ambient displays will be less demanding of our attention, enabling us to engage knowledge peripherally or even subconsciously. Supported by new developments in the World Wide Web, pervasive computing will dramatically change the manner in which we experience knowledge.

The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they’re indistinguishable from it.

Marc Weiser, 1991

Demonstration environments for pervasive computing have been developed for workplaces like Xerox PARC, homes, and museums. As individuals enter these environments, they are immediately recognized and authenticated, thereby triggering the availability of communication and/or knowledge resources. The individuals can engage a variety of displays ranging in size from an inch (pagers, phones and small, embedded devices), to a foot (screens of notebook computers, personal digital assistants of various kinds) to a yard (smart whiteboard-like devices). The engagement can be any combination ranging from peripheral to fully focused, using keyboard, speech, gesture, or other means.


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  We can see that our first taste of ubiquitous computing is already in the PC’s two strongholds — the office and home — and a unique third domain, the automobile.
Roy Want