Monday 17 May 2010

Keynote at UBI Summit: Ubicomp - Are we there yet? And where is the business?

I was invited to give a keynote at the 2010 UBI Summit in Helsinki. I looked into the recent developments of Ubicomp and in particular when things that have been around in research are surfacing on the markets. Looking back at HUC99 and HUC2k (the first two Ubicomp conferences) things like pocket bargain finder [1], context call [2,3], or sensors in phones [4] have by now become common - however it is not clear how research relates to products. There are very few cases where early Ubicomp research has been exploited in products by the people who did the research…

It was fun to think a little more about the business prespective of Ubicomp. If you are curious about the talk, have a look at my slides on "Ubicomp - Are we there yet? And where is the business?". The title of the talk relates to a recent paper I wrote for IEEE Computer [5].

The investment made in Finland in Ubicomp technology research is impressive and looking at the presentations at UBI Summit it seems it is worthwhile. One example is a really simple technology - but with great potential: Their motivation is based on a statement apparently made by Jack Welch (former CEO of GE):
"Too often we measure everything and understand nothing. The three most important things you need to measure in a business are customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash flow. If you’re growing customer satisfaction, your global market share is sure to grow, too. Employee satisfaction gets you productivity, quality, pride, and creativity. And cash flow is the pulse—the key vital sign of a company."(source)
It says that to assess the success of a company you have to look at customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash flow. Their product focuses on the first two. Technically it is simple as setting up some buttons is trivial - but creating a complete system to fit companies and their requirements is not straightforward. It is not hard to see the value...

[1] Adam B. Brody and Edward J. Gottsman. Pocket BargainFinder: A Handheld Device for Augmented Commerce. First International Symposium on Handheld and Ubiquitous Computing (HUC '99), 27-29 September 1999, Karlsruhe, Germany

[2] A. Schmidt, A. Takaluoma and J. Mäntyjärvi, Context-Aware Telephony over WAP, Personal Technologies 4(4), December 2000. pp. 225-229.

[3] A. Schmidt, T. Stuhr, H.-W. Gellersen. Context-Phonebook - Extending Mobile Phone Applications with Context. Third Mobile HCI Workshop, Lille, Sept. 2001

[4] Schmidt, A., et al. 1999. Advanced Interaction in Context. In Proceedings of the 1st int. Symposium on Handheld and Ubiquitous Computing (September, 1999). LNCS, vol. 1707. Springer, 89-101

[5] Schmidt, A. 2010. Ubiquitous Computing: Are We There Yet? Computer 43, 2 (Feb. 2010), 95-97. DOI=