FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Computers as we know them are about to disappear.
Well, okay, they won’t completely disappear, but they will take on a new form that makes them very difficult to distinguish from everyday objects all around us.
This transformation is part of a bigger, longer term trend that some have dubbed “ambient” computing. The idea is that computing capability will end up being embedded in devices ranging from speakers to automobiles, and will provide capabilities and services to us throughout the day via the environment around us.
The most obvious example of ambient computing to date is Amazon’s Echo line of products. Echo and Tap integrate the company’s Alexa digital assistant into what appears to be a Bluetooth speaker. Amazon’s Dot integrates only the microphone and works with existing Bluetooth speakers. While Echo got off to a bit of a slow start, it’s picked up a fair bit of steam recently and is now considered by many to be the darling of the tech world.