Gene at Fredshouse.net – reflecting on Rem Koolhaas / IDEO’s Prada disappointments – does some expectation-setting around deploying tech beyond the desktop:
“I’m not surprised that Prada’s experience has been less than delightful. We did some large-scale demo systems and real-world user experiments in cooltown, and we discovered some serious challenges in deploying even relatively simple ubiquitous computing technologies.
…what seems straightforward to build and run in the lab, is an order of magnitude harder to make work in the world. Using wireless LAN? Count on interference. Using infrared? Count on sunlight and heat sources. Using RFID? Count on damaged tags and misreads. Using PDAs? Count on dead batteries, lost styli, frequent crashes, both the soft and hard (floor) kind. Oh, and everything will be obsolete or broken in a year or two, so count on plenty of ongoing support to keep things fresh and fun….
Ubicomp is hard, understanding people, context, and the world is hard, getting computers to handle everyday situations is hard, and expectations are set way too high. I used to say ubicomp was a ten-year problem; now I’m starting to think that it’s really a hundred-year problem.”