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Is The World Shifting To 'Ambient Computing'?


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In the future, "A massive convergence of technologies will enable us to use computers and the internet without really using them," argues Computerworld.
At the dawn of the personal computing revolution, people "operated" a computer. They sat down and did computing -- often programming. Later, with the application explosion, operators became "users." People used computers for purposes other than programming or operating a computer -- like balancing their checkbooks or playing video games. All computing uses so far have required a cognitive shift from doing something in the real world to operating or using a computer. Ambient computing changes all that, because it involves using a computer without consciously or deliberately or explicitly "using" a computer.... 

It's just there, guiding and nudging you along as you accomplish things in life. Ambient computing devices will operate invisibly in the background. They'll identify, monitor and listen to us and respond to our perceived needs and habits. So a good working definition of ambient computing is "computing that happens in the background without the active participation of the user...."

In 20 years, the idea of picking up a device or sitting down at a computer to actively use it will seem quaintly antiquated. All computing will be ambient -- all around us all the time, whispering in our ear, augmenting the real world through our prescription eyeglasses and car windshields, perceiving our emotions and desires and taking action in the background to help us reach our business goals and live a better life. Between now and then we'll all ride together on a very interesting journey from computers we actively use to computing resources increasingly acting in the background for us.

Though the article identifies smart speakers are the first ambient computing devices most people will encounter, it's argues that that's just the beginning of a much larger change.

"We're also going to be flooded and overwhelmed by the 'ambient computing' hype as, I predict, it will become one of the most overused and abused marketing buzzwords ever."

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