Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 507–521 | Cite as

Ubiquitous computing in the real world: lessons learnt from large scale RFID deployments

  • Shin’ichi KonomiEmail author
  • George Roussos
Original Article


Ubiquitous computing technologies are slowly finding their way into commercial information systems, which are often constructed at considerably larger scale compared to what is possible in research demonstrators. Furthermore, lengthy and costly preparation or upgrade of existing infrastructures, training of employees and users in the new ways of working, controlled introduction of new functionality, features and services to manage risk, unexpected behaviors due to the wider variety of possible real-world situations, incremental approach to systems development so as to better identify successful aspects, regard for the economics of systems as a core requirement, and selection of open or closed systems are all issues that are mostly outside the scope of current ubiquitous computing research but play a critical role in industrial deployments. In this paper we review two case studies of fully operational Radio Frequency Identification-based systems: the Oyster card ticketing system used at the London Underground in the UK, and retail applications deployed at the Mitsukoshi departmental stores in Tokyo, Japan. We examine each case in terms of technologies, user interactions, and their business and organizational context and make several observations in each case. We conclude by drawing general lessons related to ubiquitous computing in the real world and identify challenges for future ubiquitous computing research.


Ubiquitous Computing Department Store Private Finance Initiative Magnetic Strip Ubiquitous Computing Technology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Brian Dobson of the Prestige project at Transport for London and Masakazu Nishida of Mitsukoshi, Ltd. for providing access to the projects and for several discussions that provided a wealth of information. We would also like to thank Mikako Ogawa, Masaki Umejima, and Jiro Kokuryo of Keio University for providing useful information and generous assistance in setting up the Mitsukoshi case study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Spatial Information ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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