Mobile computing technology has come quite a long way, especially when you get a glimpse of one of those old cell phones that you would see being used on construction sites and by Wall Street execs in the 80’s. Those things weighed 2 pounds, cost $4000 and let you talk for a whopping 30 minutes on a single charge! Now we have hours of talk, days of standby and ooh yeah… we can surf the Internet and watch movies on our phones.
More recently our phone are tackling the desktop as well. A few of the new devices, such as the Motorola Atrix to name one, give us the ability to dock the phone and use it as if it were a desktop computer. The WebTop application is an interface that works with the phones dual core processor and the Linux kernel that Android lives on to give the user a desktop experience all powered directly from the phone.
This leads me to wonder, where will this technology lead us? Processors are getting faster and smaller, displays are getting better and higher resolutions are capable. Will we eventually have that all-in-one device? If we do, I imagine it will be the kind of scenario I’m about to describe.
It’s morning and your alarm is going off, you’re reluctant to wake up, but you don’t want to be late to work either. You shower and get dressed for your day, get your wallet and keys and grab your alarm clock off its dock on your nightstand and slip it into your pocket. Once in your vehicle you cradle your alarm clock into the dock in your dash and now, your alarm clock is no longer an alarm clock, it’s a navigation and traffic monitoring system. This gadget was never just an alarm clock, it’s your mobile device, and it’s switching modes depending on the dock you are cradling it in. While in your vehicle dock, it is busy keeping an eye on your route to work and making sure there are no traffic incidents along the way that might pose a problem for you. It’s also hooked into the bluetooth system, to answer your calls or read out any texts or emails you might need to hear, or perhaps that navigation re-route because of the accident that just happened a few miles up the road.
That accident may have made you a few minutes late to work, but you’re not behind on the days activities. Getting into your office you sit down and once again plug you phone into the dock on your desk and your workspace comes alive. The wireless keyboard and mouse connect and the dock sends your video output to the flat screen that just lit up. At work, you’re hooked into your corporate network and begin working on your documents and spread sheets, and double check a few of those emails you heard in the car.
This scenario illustrates a concept of an all-in-one device that serves all your computing needs that you can carry in your pocket wherever you go. Your digital life from a single device without the need for PCs at home and at work, that provides functions that change based on your needs and what you might be doing or how you are traveling. Today’s hardware is rapidly approaching the kind of power that would be needed to fully realize this, we’re not quite there yet, but we aren’t far off either.