When someone is in need of a devil’s advocate to test an idea, I’m frequently offered the job. This is because many of my colleagues feel I’m a cynic even though I personally believe I’m more of a realist. Either way, I am definitely not the optimist with rose colored glasses that one would expect to see espousing the benefits of pervasive computing. Looking back on the pledges made in the pervasive computing realm, from wireless to handhelds and all points in between, one sees a field littered with unfulfilled promises. At first glance, one seems to see more cause for pessimism than optimism.

The promise of an always-on, everywhere computing environment with a completely wireless network still remains on the distant horizon. Yet, vendors continue to promote this vision, and many of us continue to buy into it. With each successive release of a product, we seemingly gain incremental ground. Although the promise remains out of reach and the benefits of the new and upgraded product, when listed dispassionately, sound suspiciously like a regurgitated benefit set from the previous version. In many of the facets of pervasive computing, we remain stuck at Gartner’s "Peak of Inflated Expectations."

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