Bruce Sterling calls it “the internet of things.” Adam Greenfield prefers “everyware.” Others dub it “pervasive computing,” “ubiquitous computing” or “ambient intelligence” (“ubicomp” or “AmI” for short and clunky). The basic idea is that a slew of emerging technologies — RFID tags, wireless networking, portable devices hooked up to satellites, wearable computing — will make objects in the real world act like the internet currently does. They’ll be labeled, tagged, searchable and traceable, laden with tiny radio stations transmitting information to us, and storing information about us.
As we turn real-world objects — and ourselves — into data packets, our lumpy desktop computers will fade into the background, integrate with our clothes and bodies, and dip beneath the level of our conscious perception. Information and environment will meld. As a result, says Greenfield, “some of the most interesting ideas current in interaction design are being worked out at the scale of the city.”