Ubiquitous Computing vs Virtual Reality

  • Posted July 9, 2008. Last modified June 7, 2010 by

Early this week, during a lecture at Guelph by Dr. Denko, I was introduced to the idea of ubiquitous computing. The idea was coined in the 1980’s by Mark Weiser at the Xerox Parc Lab. An extremely simplified definition of ubiquitous computing on the laboratory website is where technology recedes into the background of our lives. One person has many computers of various sizes and capabilities that aid the person in such a way that he/she takes for granted the computers are even there.

A brain computer interface for reading signals from the human mind

An example of a Brain-Computer-Interface

One interesting way I’ve heard it described both in the lecture and on the laboratory website is that is roughly the opposite of virtual reality. This definition seems strange to me because with the computers everywhere it almost is like the boundary between what is real and what is virtual becomes blurred.

What happens if in the future we can interface the computers with the human mind? While the definition of virtual reality is a human inside a computer created world, ubiquitous computing of the future could become a mix of computer created worlds and the imagination of the individual user. This area is quite interesting to me, and there are still many questions, perhaps this wil be a future area of research.

4 comments on “Ubiquitous Computing vs Virtual Reality”


    Your blog came up on my VR google alert and I find it very interesting. What would we really get from alternative realities generated by real-time interactions between VR environments and our imaginations? If my dreams are any indication, it’s going to be pretty crazy! Perhaps this is the opportunity for humankind to take more responsibility for our imaginations and learn to channel them. Our brain’s a largely untapped resource after all.


    It would definitely be really crazy! People could basically escape completely from any type of reality that we know now and really just form their own reality. I wonder if people would even have any reason for real interactions with each other anymore with this type of technology available. To me it would be like living in a perpetual video game or real life movie or something. Very weird stuff, but at the same time very cool.


    Hey, I’ve got a few books you should look at, that actually look at reality and society in ubiquitous computing and Virtual Reality. The first is a trilogy, by John C. Wright, that starts with The Golden Age. Lots of recent sci-fi is actually looking at the impact and meaning of UC, so that can give you some ideas and perspectives.

    Here is also an article by Clay Shirky, that points out the flaws in a permanet situation, and UC is simply permanet taken to an extreme: http://shirky.com/writings/permanet.html

    Oh, and by the way, thanks for the link in the blogroll. 🙂

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