Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Future of Personal Computing: Post-iPad Concepts

"QUANTUM SHOT" #19 (rev)
Link - by Avi Abrams

Future of Personal Computing: From Post-iPad Concepts to Pen-and-Paper-Based Anachronisms

Note, we did not say that iPad is the future of personal computing - it is too early to say, for example, how well it performs with various professional applications - but iPad is certainly a step toward more popular use of computing (even your grandma might get enticed to touch its screen and shiny silver back). However, the question remains, what's beyond iPad, and is there anything our there beyond the simple touchscreen/keyboard configuration?

(image via, original unknown)

(HP concept at the National Gallery in London, 2004 - via)

Holo-Projection Computers

B-Membrane, designed by Won-Seok Lee in 2008: no monitor needed, everything is holographically projected, the keyboard only appears for convenience when the base is touched - more info:

(image via)

Another easy-to-carry concept is the HOLO computer, by Elodie Delassus - more info:

(image via)

Back in 2002, NEC Design, Ltd. in Tokyo offered the whole range of new ideas, some of which were pretty radical at the time. Many thought that these concept have the potential to change the face of personal computing in the foreseeable future. Now, eight years later, they still remain as concepts - is this a comment on their usability, or just lack of interest?

Pen-style Personal Computers

Look closely and guess what they could be... Are they pens with cameras? No, much better than that:

(images credit: NEC)

This experimental product called the P-ISM, described by NEC designers as a "Pen-style Personal Networking Gadget Package." A prototype of the system, which cost a reported $30,000 to build, was unveiled at ITU Telecom World in 2003 (that's long, long time ago).

"P-ISM is a "pen-computer" package including five functions: a pen-style cellular phone with a handwriting data input, virtual keyboard, a very small projector, camera scanner, and personal ID key with cashless pass function. P-ISMs are connected with one another through short-range wireless technology. This personal gadget in a minimalist pen style enables the ultimate ubiquitous computing."

Such a pen can easily complement an iPad... but I rather think that the old "(touch)screen, or keyboard" technology may persist for a while yet (the way books keep their staying power over computer monitors). Admittedly, the pen-and-paper combination is the ultimate writing/reading setup that we naturally accept. So it may be only a matter of time until someone develops a marketable and useful product... masquerading as the "smart" paper and the "smart" pen.

Let's see some other cool ideas from "NEC Design":

"Tag" - flexible wrist-band communicator

It has a soft and flexible shell - so it can be hung from a belt, for example, or wrapped around the user’s arm. Shape-memorizing material and multiple pressure sensors allow the phone to change its shape according to the mode. The user can also alternate the mode by changing the shape:

"Flacon" - a virtual storage bottle.

We already have the means to store massive amount of information on our various devices - for example, so many images that we cannot possibly see in a lifetime. "Flacon" offers the ways to casually enjoy such huge numbers of visuals. The images emerge on an inorganic electroluminescent display. Appropriate photos are selected according to birthdays, anniversaries, and even matching the mood of a user:

"Gummi" - Ubiquitous (and eatable!) candy / media chip

The RFID chips are covered in a gummy capsule, and are edible after use. When the play unit is connected to the container (the basic unit), it can be used as an audio player. By setting it in the cradle connected to the display through the wireless, users can also enjoy visual content. The chips are sold in packages just like candies. Blank chips on which users can allocate data will also be available.

Left: RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) Chips disguised as candy; the right image shows another disguise - as a colored cute little snails (more info):

(images via)

Speaking of eatable, drinkable, flexible and completely ephemeral computers... are we going to wake up one day wondering if our dreams during the night were "natural" (i.e. non-digital), or were they pre-packaged and uploaded into our "mood environment" by a pillow-like Walmart-sold device?

Here is another eatable (literally) computer. All it needs is the embedded eatable chip:

(original unknown)

Ephemeral & Wild Computer Accesorries

There is a Gun-shaped Mouse, of course - more info

(images via)

When it comes to keyboards - here is the Bendi Light-Up Keyboard: flexible, shiny thing you wrap around your lap? Is it really as convenient as it looks?

(image via)

Another "Magical Keyboard" - more info:

(image via)

Positively glowing with some highly-optimistic "reception bars" is the Wi-Fi Detector T-Shirt (buy it here):

(image via)

Finishing up this overview of extreme and futuristic computer set-ups, here is an ultimate gaming POD, spotted in Germany: "Emperor", by NovelQuest - buy them here:

(images via)

...and probably the most practical for those of us who get continuoulsy rooted to their chair: "WalkStation"... Welcome to your very own web-enhanced hamster wheel!

(image via; bottom right is the "TrekDesk", info)

Retro-style might get popular again in post-iPad computer design:

(image credit: Photoshop manipulation by Dark Roasted Blend, Avi Abrams)




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