Back in November of 2011 I posted “The future’s bright, the future is Apple” hinting at some ideas I had at the time.
Well I had an interesting dream last night and I think the future could be even brighter than I had previously thought.
Firstly, as nothing has changed wildly in the world of technology over the past year and a half (almost) it’s about time I shared my original vision, which I believe is years ahead of what we presently have..
My vision for the future computer was based on the standard desktop metaphor that has been used for years. Deepening the experience could be done easily by moving to 3D (something that it has been hinted that Apple have been playing with over the past few years and I’ve noticed some PC vendors [fujitsu?] toying with the ideas ). To clarify here I’m not talking about the appearance of 3D rendering of icons and the like but a full 3D experience, where you feel like you are interacting with objects (programs) on an actual desktop…. Now to make this work you would have to expand on the interaction, moving from mouse & keyboard, past touch and slightly past what the XBox does with the connect.
What I originally envisioned was a Device which can detect where your hands are, one that interprets your actions and the 3D desktop would respond to those actions. I was thinking that the Xbox’s connect was a nice idea but it appears to need some configuration, may be sensitive to light and probably takes a lot of processor power to do what it does (?). So what
was I thinking?? Well I thought about how Radar tracks objects and how similar processes can be achieved with other forms or light and radio waves. Then I remembered the theremin, a device familiar to adults of an age who enjoyed Star Trek or enjoy The Big Bang Theory (TV Show) and remember the sounds the device made in songs by the beach boys.. The theremin is a musical instrument that is played by waving your hands above the device, where each hand controls an aspect of the device (tone / volume).
Once you bring the concept of radar, infrared scanning, the theremin and put all these ideas together you get a conceptual way to detect where the user has their hands, the direction they are moving and I believe that there could be a way to track this movement to create a three dimensional representation of the interaction, one that could be assimilated into some form of interaction with the 3D display to create an all new and unique experience.
So that’s the desktop re-imagined..
but I also mentioned that I thought that it appears desktop printers have been stuck in the same cliche of how they work, with the only advances being the addition of networking, duplex, scanning etc. Why are these printers so big and bulky with loads of gears, rollers and parts to go faulty?
Could the future printer not just be a device, not much longer and wider than the paper it was printing on, with printing and scanning capabilities built into the same device. A rectangular device which is a similar size as a current standard desktop scanner which prints (thinking Inkjet technology) in a similar method to the way it scans and scans the output as it goes to maximise performance / minimise waste. Surely technology has minimised enough that such a product is possible? As the device doesn’t need all the extra rollers, motors and gears for paper feeding it could be made lighter and smaller and less likely paper jam (there would have to be some form of paper output and possibly duplex option).
The other possibility is a technology similar to the old Polaroid cameras, where an image is beamed directly into light sensitive paper to produce the image and then the image is ‘fixed’ as it passes out the device, using the old design ethos of Keep It Simple Stupid?
Anyway theses were my old ideas from over 12 months ago..
My recent design ideas came in a dream, where I was given what looked like the keyboard from a Microsoft tablet. The Clear blue keyboard was difficult to make out and I realised that if it could be improved it could make a good tablet device as it wasn’t solid like current tablets currently are.
This new ‘flexi tablet’ would be semi transparent, with an edge only slightly bigger than half the width of the current iPhone 5, but as the device was flexible it could be bent round your arm, the sides connecting together using something similar to a magnet. This made the device very potable and personal.
The device would have the ability to ‘project’ up from the device, in a similar way to the PC mentioned earlier (thinking 3D layers), allowing for more information to be made available in the limited space available.
The device would be charged by and communicate via wireless, possibly utilising processor power from some more powerful system located elsewhere to perform more advanced features and storage, freeing the device to deal with the user interface. To ensure that the system could identify devices easily some form of RFID or NFC could be used.
Now the question is, how long before this sort of technology becomes a reality?? Is it already in development or have the grey box thinkers already shelved such ideas as ‘too radical’??
I have other ideas but that’s enough for everyone’s brains for now 😉
UPDATE (July 2013): I have just been reviewing this page and realised that some of these concepts could be closer to reality than I originally envisioned.
There has been talk about an Apple iWatch and Apple talking to the Israeli company behind the connect (for Microsoft’s XBox).
I’m sure I also heard that a US university is researching ways to track hand movements and gestures via sound (echo location?), which I find interesting as Apple have mentioned about ‘beamforming’ ( MacTech found the patent Apple filed.) using the audio (speaker and microphone) on their laptop range and iOS devices in the past few year or two, only mentioning it’s use to improve audio recording or playback, but it could be used for something more?
Or maybe I’m finding clues where their aren’t any (just like so many internet rumours).