The Era of Sentient Things

SmartMobs (The next social revolution)

[The Era of Sentient Things]

Rheingold introduces Scott Fisher, who, while working at Atari Research Laboratory, was working on augmented reality. He designed a system where information content could be added to physical objects and retrieved using head mounted displays or glasses. the directions of this approach includes:
1. Information in places: media linked to location
2. smart rooms: environments that sense inhabitants and respond to them
3. digital cities. adding information capabilities to urban places
4. sentient objects: adding information and communication to physical objects
5. tangible bits. manipulating the virtual world by manipulating physical objects
6. wearable computers: sensing, computing, and communicating gear worn as clothing

Will you be able to use the capabilities of smart mob technologies to know everything you need to know about the world you walk through and to connect with those groups of who could benefit you?
Will you be allowed to cooperate with anyone your wearable device helps you choose?
will others know everything they need to know about you through the sensors you encounter and information you broadcast?

Another approach consists in let the computer disappear. Mark wiser at NASA was one of the pioneer of ubiquitous computers. The direction taken vary from responsive environments to extended senses (Smart rooms and Smart Clotes). GeoNotes, on the other hand, enables people to annotate physical locations with virtual notes: a way to link information and places. This approach differentiate from CoolTown where researcher use barcode readers, radio frequency identity tags and wireless internet links to create an ecology of Web-present objects.

_______ | -person- | -environment- |
-virtual- | GeoNotes | CoolTown |
-physical- | Smart Clotes | Smart Rooms |

Who owns access to your devices, either to push information at you or to pull information from you?
Some of the answers will emerge from political processes, but many are sensitive from technical decisions, like the infrastructure for connecting devices which, as HP asserts, should be the Web, as standard fro maintaining open and affordable access.
A form of location awareness is already built into your mobile phone. By triangulating signals from nearby cells, it is possible to locate a telephone within few hundred feet.
Digital annotations of physical objects and places could catalyse interconnections between groups of people within a locality. Neil Gershenfeld predicted the merging of bits and atoms in. When Things Start to Think.
Most of the proposed approaches, such as virtual Helsinki, are very expensive because requires a complete new infrastructure, object tagging or systems which relates physical content to some form of virtual interaction. In addition, most of the emphasis is placed on the hardware intelligence. On the contrary I privilege the Human Intelligence as one of the design focus for the new smart mob technologies. In the same thread Steve Mann like to say:
“Rather than smart rooms, smart cars, smart toilets, etc., I would like to put forward the notion of smart people. In a HI [humanistic intelligence] framework, the goal is to enhance the intelligence of the race, not just its tools. Smart people means, simply, that we should rely on human intelligence. in our development of technological infrastructure rather than attempt to take the human being out of the equation. An important goal of HI is to take a first step toward a foremost principle of the Enlightenment, that of the dignity of the individual. … one of the founding principles of developing technology under the Hi system is that the user must be an integral part of the discourse loop. The wearable computer allows for new ways to be, not just do.

Leave a Reply