Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 133–143 | Cite as

Yesterday’s tomorrows: notes on ubiquitous computing’s dominant vision

  • Genevieve BellEmail author
  • Paul Dourish
Original Article


Ubiquitous computing is unusual amongst technological research arenas. Most areas of computer science research, such as programming language implementation, distributed operating system design, or denotational semantics, are defined largely by technical problems, and driven by building upon and elaborating a body of past results. Ubiquitous computing, by contrast, encompasses a wide range of disparate technological areas brought together by a focus upon a common vision. It is driven, then, not so much by the problems of the past but by the possibilities of the future. Ubiquitous computing’s vision, however, is over a decade old at this point, and we now inhabit the future imagined by its pioneers. The future, though, may not have worked out as the field collectively imagined. In this article, we explore the vision that has driven the ubiquitous computing research agenda and the contemporary practice that has emerged. Drawing on cross-cultural investigations of technology adoption, we argue for developing a “ubicomp of the present” which takes the messiness of everyday life as a central theme.


Smart Card Ubiquitous Computing Mobile Telephony Ubiquitous Computing Environment Computer Science Research 
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.



This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under awards 0133749, 0205724, 0326105, 0527729, and 0524033, and by a grant from Intel Corporation. We are grateful to Matthew Chalmers and Beki Grinter for insightful comments on earlier drafts, and to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful remarks and criticisms.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Intel Corporation Santa ClaraUSA
  2. 2.University of California IrvineUSA

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