03 Sep Is it Mobile if it's Wireless at Home?
It’s no news that broadband access is on the rise in U.S. homes, and among the highly connected set, at least, the arrival of broadband is followed rather quickly by the installation of wireless home networking. In fact, I would venture to say that consumers and consumer applications are now a significant driver in the WiFi market.
Until WiFi, wired home networking had been the stuff of nerdy weekend projects that linked the kids’ computers to Mom’s or Dad’s “server” in order to share an Internet connection and printer. WiFi liberated home networks from troublesome rewiring requirements, and in the process liberated the computer from the desk. Now, laptops can roam the home, enabling a parent to check email at the kitchen counter while supervising the kids’ morning routines. A tablet can provide a second screen in an interactive television scenario. Digital music can stream from a PC to the stereo system. A PDA with VoIP software can become a cordless phone. The possibilities now become the stuff of nerdy weekend projects.
Still, as DEMOmobile approaches — among the cadre of excellent technologies are a few home-based concepts — we’ve been asking ourselves if wireless home networks meet the definition of “mobile.” That, of course, led us to ask just what mobility means today.
Just a decade ago, mobile meant a thin and light laptop and a reel of telephone cord. You could work on the laptop wherever you were, then synch with the home office when you settled down within five yards of an RJ-11 jack. It was a move-and-connect model of mobility. Today, mobility means connectivity first and foremost. It is all about being on the network. It is the connect-anytime-anywhere model of mobility, reinforced by recent additions of Internet availability on commuter trains and major airlines. It is the expectation that the network will be there — wherever “there” is.
Today, largely driven by the one-two punch of broadband and WiFi, the network is in the home. By my definition, then, the home is a part of the mobile fabric. (And who would have thought that we’d all be living in “mobile” homes one day?)
The larger question, of course, is what will we do with this new mobility within the home. It is the same question we asked about the enterprise and have tried to answer with this year’s DEMOmobile program. Liberated from a corner of the bedroom or an off-limits study, computing in the home takes on interesting new dimensions. It becomes the means of resolving disputes or satisfying curiosity on the spot. Parents and children can do their “homework” together at the dining room table. And connectivity isn’t limited by where you can hide the wires.
These, of course, are the obvious first applications of the unwired home. Much more interesting are those new applications that will make home life efficient, safe, more entertaining, and thoroughly “modern.” These are the applications I’ll be looking for in the months ahead as indicators that mobility within the home is effecting significant change.
What are your experiences in your unwired home? What applications would you like to see? Take this week’s Three Questions Survey at http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?DVPH18Q9PAWYYESEYVC4XMYM
Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences,Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years.Shipley has extensive experience in online publishing, having developed online content and communities on every major platform, including AOL and the Web. Before oining IDG, Shipley established a consulting practice to help Silicon Valley technology companies define their media strategies. Shipley is a frequent speaker at technology industry forums, and acts as an advisor toseveral startup ventures.
The annual DEMO and DEMOmobile conferences focus on emerging technologies and new products, which are hand-selected by executive producer Chris Shipley from across the spectrum of the personal technology marketplace. TheDEMO conference has earned its reputation as the singular event that consistently identifies tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies. DEMO has served as a launch pad for companies such as Palm, E*Trade, Handspring, and U.S. Robotics, helping them to secure venture funding, establish critical business relationships, and influence early adopters. DEMO is held in February each year and features approximately 60 new companies, products and technologies. The next DEMO conference is DEMOmobile September 17-19. For more information please visit http://www.demo.com
The DEMO community also benefits from the award winning DEMOletter. A weekly newsletter designed to reach the people who are creating companies, building products and launching new ideas, DEMOletter provides smart insight and analysis of entrepreneurial business issues. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.demo.com Chris Shipley can be reached at email@example.com
This column was reprinted with permission of Network World Inc. IDG Executive Forums, a division of Network World, Inc., is an information resource company dedicated to serving executives in the high-technology marketplace. Most widely known for producing the high-tech industry’s premiere executive conferences and newsletters, the company provides the industry analysis, information, insights, and networking opportunities its customers need to excel in the fastest-paced marketplace in the world. The company’s products include AGENDA., DEMO., DEMOmobile., DIGITAL SPECTRUM(tm), VORTEX, DEMOletter., and VORTEX Digest. All registeredtrademarks are owned by IDG. More information can be found at http:// www.idgef.com.
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