First we had software and hardware. Soon we will be entering the age of everyware. Everyware (The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing) was written by Adam Greenfield (no relation) and describes the move from the desktop computing paradigm to where the technology is embedded in our environment and becomes virtually invisible in our lives.

This idea is also referred to as the World Network. A USA Today article titled “Next big thing: The Web as your servant” detailed how the convergence of the Internet, GPS, cellular networks and RFID will make this possible. The article quoted web creator Tim Berners-Lee who said “The Web can reach its full potential only if it becomes a place where data can be shared and processed by automated tools as well as by people.” Motorola CEO Ed Zander added “The big change is going to be when the Internet follows you, not you trying to follow the Internet.”

We are now seeing the idea of everyware and the world network being implemented in interesting ways in higher ed:

  • MIT has introduced iFind which allows “you and your buddies can instantaneously exchange your locations on campus, talk to users nearby, and microcoordinate more effectively.”
  • Esuds is an online laundry system that gives students the ability to check the availability of washers and dryers and be notified that their laundry is finished via text message or e-mail. Google e-suds to find links to numerous colleges that are using esuds
  • GPS systems are being added to campus buses and shuttles that allow their location to be tracked in real time via cellphone. I would love to see this at UB where we have two campuses and very cold and snowy winters.
  • Rave Wireless has a service called Guardian that takes campus safety to the next level by allowing students to set a timer on their cell phones if they feel unsafe (i.e. if they are crossing campus alone late at night). If the student doesn’t deactivate the timer, campus police are notified with the student’s GPS location and personal profile.
  • NJIT’s Smart Campus Project which will will allow NJIT students to locate their friends or find how many people are currently using the library or computer labs in real time.