Monday, March 31st, 2008

Ubiquitous Computing Adopted and Redefined

Ubiquitous computing. If English isn’t your first language you probably scramble for a dictionary. The ubiquitous entry would say something like this:

found or seeming to be found everywhere; ever-present

So, ubiquitous computing literally means computing everywhere. The concept could have been buried in the sediment of time and forgotten, had there not been some startling development in East Asia.

Some Westerners think pervasive is a better word: pervasive computing. They don’t realize it’s too late, the roles have been reversed. The term ubiquitous computing was coined in the West in the 80’s. It was picked up by Japan and Korea a number of years ago and became the centerpiece of two national ICT (Information and Communication Technology) long-term strategies.

These countries embraced ubiquitous computing to the extent that the word ubiquitous is now a loan word in the Japanese as well as the Korean languages. yu-bi-ki-ta-su (Japanese)Japan and Korea now define the meaning of ubiquitous computing, mostly because no one else cares enough. They have revived a slightly neglected concept by adding vision, energy and enthusiasm.

A whole new “u-language” is re-exported from Korea and Japan. There is u-city, u-home, u-life and many others.yu-bi-kwo-to-su (Korean)

For instance, consider the ubiquitous home. How can a home be ubiquitous? The simple answer is, it can’t. The word has been redefined. In this context it now means

connected, or cool and connected

The ubiquitous home is a home where the refrigerator, the air conditioning system and many other things are connected to a visionary Internet. This version of Internet is ever-present, i.e. ubiquitous in the literal sense. It means that the owners may get in touch with their home wherever they are, whether in the office, in the car, or just walking around.

Other u-concepts may be explained in a similar way. It’s a matter of being connected.

Earlier information technology was about people to people communication. The distinguishing mark of the “u” era is people to object, and object to object communication. Almost anything communicates.

If you intend to introduce IT products on the Korean or Japanese markets, gain credibility by mastering the u-language.

See also the report U-Korea, U-Japan, U-Fever in the download area.

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