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 Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Many experts are suggesting that we are at the beginning of an era of 'technological ubiquity'. In terms of information and communications technologies (ICT) the mobile phone is the device that has come closest to achieving ubiquity. But, it is the diffusion of mobile phones together with the rapid technological progress of the past 30 years which has seen the doubling of microprocessor power every 18 months, the availability of very fast, small and cheap computers and the rise of the Internet which is seen as the real foundation of technological ubiquity.

And in the near future, microcomputers that are invisible to the human eye and that are embedded in everything from cars, pencils, clothes and banknotes are foreseen. These electronic devices could be networked together enabling an environment of smart networked objects. This environment will take advantage of short-range communications technologies such as Bluetooth and radio frequency identification (RFID), which could be integrated into mobile phones. Exploiting the identification, localization and monitoring functionalities of these technologies will create a range of possibilities enabling innovative new products and services. In turn, as these smart objects communicate with each other, this will result in an increase in data traffic, market growth and increased profit.

International collaboration between standardization bodies is crucial in the realization of this goal. Without international standards interoperability will be difficult if not impossible and these bodies are also in the best position to establish rules to guarantee the privacy of users. Ubiquitous applications must be linked to trusted mechanisms that ensure privacy in order to be successful.

ITU-T aims to encourage industry, academia and international institutions to participate in the Technology Watch Correspondence Groups where they will find a common platform to share views, ideas and needs to stimulate discussion and kick-start work.

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