Many Working As One
Unplanned networks have a number of advantages, but the most appealing are adaptability and evolvability. Think about a wireless network for a school. Even though it can be added on to, this requires running Ethernet cable to new wireless routers, and is definitely well outside the reach of the average network user.
On the other hand, the Magic Bike project, which features wireless repeater-style local networks mounted on bikes. When a new network node is needed -- like in a public park during a concert -- bikes can be pulled closer to the center of usage. It would be interesting to see whether this idea could work by implanting the network into a device that is generally carried around, like cellphones, or clothing.
Or toys. The Rabbit prototype furby-style pet can get information about current events, weather, and the time because it forms a wifi network with other rabbits like it. This network could then be used as a platform for other products, like laptops, to share data. This idea is exciting; Imagine a device that was used for one purpose, but which enabled a network to be built due to its widespread and simultaneous distribution (like a toy)
Another exciting de-centralized concept that came out in recent weeks was this pedal-powered VoIP phone. Power issues are a major concern for decentralized networks, but with batteries improving constantly, and power requirements going down for many electronics components, human power is a distinct possibility. The reason for human or solar power is easy -- its always available, and always portable.
As a taste of what can come from this kind of interconnectivity, take a look at lucky-duck-Tokyo's Final Fantasy VII : Before Crisis. This game uses in-camera phones to collect "material" by snapping pictures of matching color in the real world, and also requires movement and interaction between users. This kind of location sensitive, multi-user interaction pumps us up to no end. Wouldn't it be great if this same interaction could be applied to other people-dense situations like freeways or shopping malls for some new types of interfacing?
People do pretty well on their own. But if you get enough of then working together, and unrestricted by desks or plugs, who knows what they could accomplish.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team