16 Sep 2005

ubicomp final notes

Ubicomp reflections

Not having been to any of the other Ubicomps, I can't really compare them. But the highlight for me was actually seeing the sponsor demos. Actually seeing some of this stuff that Japanese companies are putting out there. I'm pretty sure it just tells all your ubicomp people that these Japanese companies are way in front of the curve. Location is probably the only thing that they haven't mastered yet, but I bet you they are very close to it. Either using visual tags or some other RFID system, they're going to achieve it before the western world.

There were a few talks that were quite impressive so I think the quality of the papers are actually quite good. What was actually missing was any interesting Japanese or Asian papers about ubicomp in their countries. It might be interesting to have a session about ubicomp adoption in those countries to really see whether there is impact in this field of research.

I for one would be most interested in the adoption of QR Codes in Japan. There are a bunch of them visible, either on geek magazines or even on packets of tissues that are handed out on the streets. It seems to me it is like the vCard standard because I can only see them encode URLs or physical addresses. But I wonder whether it would have the same effect in UK or US given that net access on GSM is still pretty poor. They all seem to rely on looking up the content from a URL encoded in the QR Code.

Another things I would really want to know are user studies about QR Codes and also about the Hong Kong Octopus RFID Payment System. The Octopus system has been around for at least 8 years, and it's really mind boggling to see that the same concept is only started being adopted here in Japan called Suica and also in London (called Oyster.) Japan is adopting Suica big time, very much like when it was initially deployed in HK, but you can see that at least 60% of people aren't using that card there. Where as in HK, given the 8 years lead time, i think nearly everyone except tourists are using the Octopus Card.

Next year it's going to be in Orange County, California. Wonder if I'll go, or maybe try submitting to UCS instead since it is going to be in Seoul, another place that I want to go to! Well, before I do, I have to get some work done and finish a thesis!

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