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DigiCULT 27
organic thin-film transistors on flexible polymer-
ic substrates, or just printing electronics directly onto
packages of consumer goods or the objects them-
, W
he `post-PC' era of ubiquitous computing is also
driven by a boom in mobile devices and infor-
mation appliances that will become ever cheaper,
more energy efficient, seamlessly interoperable, con-
figurable over the Internet as well as always and opti-
mally connected. In fact, mobile communication
represents a highly innovative area in which Europe
has particular strength (e.g. world leadership in GSM).
Much is expected from the next waves of smart
phones, although in Europe they currently show
a low market penetration of about 2-3 per cent.
Mobile entertainment services (other than ring-
tones and logos) have less than 1 per cent market
share. Nevertheless, for the second half of 2004 all
major manufacturers (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Siemens,
Motorola) have announced various new products,
such as phones equipped with 1.3 mega pixel cameras.
Some are even preparing to offer GSM models with
WLAN capacity.
Overall, future mobile devices are likely to have
much more processing power as well as dynam-
ic memory, multimedia accelerators that allow for a
much richer visual experience, and multiple types
of wireless capabilities. They will have features such
as `smart hand off ', allowing the device to connect
automatically to either a Wi-Fi or cellular network
depending on the most cost-effective connection
available. Furthermore, different kinds of flexible
screens may evolve that, for example, roll out of the
side of the device.
The major bottleneck lies in the energy sourc-
es, where the improvements in the last ten years, i.e.
from NiCad to NiMH to Lithium Ion, and current-
ly Lithium Polymer batteries, have been far from rev-
olutionary. Developers of fuel cells believe they have
the potential to offer eventually at least ten times the
energy density of current lithium-ion batteries for
handheld and mobile electronics, all-day mobile com-
Information pick-up at exhibitions or
heritage sites
In the coming years, growth in capability and dra-
matic cost reduction will lead to a much wider
application of smart tags. In fact, within 10 to 15
years every conceivable object could have a tag -
for example, all objects on display in a gallery or
somewhere on a larger heritage site. Consider that
a host of devices will be able to read the tags, and
connect to a database for retrieving information
about the objects, their history, meaning, and rela-
tion to other objects on display or even in a library
on another continent.
The visitor may select the information himself, or
set his device in a `pick-up mode' for capturing and
storing the information on, or related to, the exhi-
bition objects he is close to. For example, this could
be the URLs of 3D copies of the objects, and
other objects that for various reasons may not form
part of the exhibition. It could also be the URL of
parts of an electronic exhibition catalogue, scholarly
articles, or any other information considered to be
of value for different user groups. The visitor's devi-
ce would capture and retain only the information
or links he has defined as of particular interest.
At home, in a school class or in a university semi-
nar, he would read the information to a PC, TV
set-top box or other terminal, and access the
resources on the Web for further study of the 3D
objects, for presentation slides, an educational work
sheet, etc., in the company of a partner, a child,
friends or colleagues. This scenario illustrates that
there are many opportunities for connecting an
institution's collections with the classroom, the uni-
versity and lifelong learners at home.
Interesting examples of the current experiments
with smart tags are, to name but two examples:
The Ambient Smart Tags Repositories for Art Learn-
ing (ASTRAL) pilot, designed and implemented
by Giunti Interactive Labs in the framework of the
WebKit project (,
is described in David L. Fuschi / Fabrizio Cardina-
li: "Using RFID tags for ambient learning & trai-
ning" in DigiCULT.Info 7, April 2004. http://www.
In a project called TaggedX, the Museum of Natu-
ral History, in Aarhus, Denmark, with two partners
from regional RTD companies, explores the use
of RFID-enhanced exhibitions to better educate
and entertain visitors. For a description of the lear-
ning model and technical set-up, see Farhat Khan,
"Museum Puts Tags on Stuffed Birds", 7 Septem-
ber 2004.
Expectations" in Economy
Tribune, September/
October 2004, p. 43.
Cf. David Shier, "The
Future of Windows Mobile
Devices", November 2004.
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