ERCIM was requested by the Royal Society to review the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: 366, 1881 pp 3663-3838: "From computers to ubiquitous computing, by 2020"; 28 October 2008; edited by Marta Kwiatkowska, Tom Rodden and Vladimiro Sassone.

The publication collects papers from a discussion meeting held at the Royal Society in March 2008. The 18 individual papers each tackle an aspect of Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) ranging from RFID identifiers and global sensing, software and architecture to support UbiComp and embedded systems through to properties of systems including self-* properties, security and trust with additional short papers on healthcare, ethics, engineering, modelling and living with UbiComp. Each paper is of high quality but no real linking themes emerged; the publication exhibits very good work by researchers in a disconnected way. The introduction is more of a catalogue of what follows although in the early and late paragraphs the topic is introduced with application examples and some challenges are presented, respectively. The short papers on engineering (Crowcroft), modelling (Milner) and living in a ubiquitous world (Rodden) provide real broader context and insight but are too short to allow the ideas to be developed.

The publication provides much useful material for researchers in individual aspects of UbiComp and for certain aspects may well provide the base reference. For some aspects the work appears disconnected from parallel work where there are research results and a body of well-respected publications. Anyone wishing to obtain a high-level view of the significance of UbiComp, its importance in the future knowledge society, the challenges in its achievement with their relative importance and difficulty or the potential utility of the technology in various application areas is likely to be disappointed.
by Keith Jeffery

More information:

Philosophical Transactions A is particularly interested in receiving unsolicited theme proposal For further information, please visit

Next issue: January 2023
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