ubiquitous computing… except in my office

I forward my office phone to my mobile phone. This ensures that I can take calls no matter where I am at in the world. That was until I gave up I had my old Blackberry with Verizon Wireless. Once I got iPhone with AT&T, however, I noticed that I have no access in my office. So, ironically, I can take calls made to my office anywhere in the world, except when I am in my office.

Solution: My office phone rings once before it forwards the call to my mobile. Of course, my mobile phone does not even ring. So, when I hear my office phone rings, I run out from my office to the hall way, hoping that I can get the call before it goes to the voice mail. Most of the times, I am not fast enough.

Demise of Municipal Wi-Fi network

There was an interesting article in New York Times today about the doom of the municipal Wifi network. The article points out the flawed the business model as one of the primary reasons of failure. In an article that I wrote with my colleagues for last year’s Global Mobile Roundtable in Los Angeles, I pointed out the danger of applying the notion of “universal access” that was originally developed simplistic utility service to a complex and dynamic digital information infrastructure such as broadband wireless network. Therefore, it is not just the failure of business model, but the failure of underlying philosophy. As we argued in the paper, the notion of universal access needs to be expand from a technical concept to a much broader socio-technical-economic concept. A business model that reflects such complexity will be the one that can sustain this type of complex infrastructure, which can do so much good for the public.

Wireless Philadelphia Student Project (1)

Yesterday was the last day of class and my students did excellent jobs of putting together their presentations. The first group was focusing on a small device for Philadelphia Residents. The name of the device is called PUC (Philadelphia Urban Communicator). It could be a Personal Urban Communicator. It is a small round device that has VoIP, pedestrian navigation service, IM and some other functions. This is a UI prototype of the device. It still has a lot of details that need more work and refinement, but an interesting concept. They suggest a partnership with Yahoo. The suggested retail price of $99 and monthly service fee of $20 through Philadelphia Wireless. Given that MIT Media Lab’s OLPC is only $100, the price of PUC should come down substantially. The price for the service plan also need to come down significantly. It can also incorporate QR bar code and interact with buildings with QR to get information (offices, shops and restaurants inside the building, for example).


Students also took video from their field research. These are three clips from them. First, why do you live in Philadelphia? http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-2174374666859403927&hl=en

Second, what can be improved? http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=8813173100607123995&hl=en

Third, can you design a device for Philadelphia wireless? http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=5585555175986533996&hl=en