In the last few months there have been some blurring lines within our smaller computing devices. It was evident when Steve Jobs declared that ‘we live in a post-pc age’. There is a shift happening in the roles computers have in our lives.
First, we moved from desktop pcs to laptops.
Second, we moved from laptops to netbooks.
Meanwhile, phones developed rapidly to meet in the middle.
First, mobile phones can make calls and send SMS
Second, smartphones like the android family and iphone are serious challengers for the majority of work that is done on larger computers.
In the last few months 2 devices have crossed over this boundary.
The Motorola Atrix is an android phone which comes with a docking station that turns this dual-core phone monster into a netbook with mouse and full keyboard. An additional docking option will allow you to use your phone as a nettop for your tv or other screen. If you read the reviews for this device you can see it is not as smooth as one would like. It seems, though, that the concept works as a prototype. With such a steep price tag it won’t be disruptive but does however illustrate some cool, new ideas.
The Eee Pad Transformer is the second device which helps to blur the lines between devices and computers. Apple released the ipad in the similar disruptive fashion that the iphone invaded the smartphone market. Since Apple took
charge of this market android devices have been playing catch-up, and only recently have we started seeing devices that come even close to competing with the current second generation ipad. Asus has attempted to focus on the area that Apple prides itself on avoiding -expansion. The Transformer can be connected to the docking station which provides extra battery, extra USB ports and an SD card slot. From all accounts Asus have released a much more polished product than the Motorola Atrix and they are certainly finding their market with a fantastic price point. Time will tell if users wish for a simpler experience or more flexibility.
It seems that we are reaching a stage where phones and computers will cross over and be able to complete many common tasks. The choice we make about which device we use will be more based on the complexity and size of the task rather than just going to the computer.
And so now to the idea…
This is where the idea comes in. All these expansion devices should offer methods for enhanced connectivity that will allow for not just additional ports but further processing power. For example, connecting a number of phones together and then connecting them to the computer allowing for multiple touchpads which can be assigned to different controls. This would be super helpful for audio where each phone could process an affect, or in photoshop where each phone could display a different palette or plugin that it controls and free up more screen realestate as well as minimise mouse-clicks. This processing power could also be built into other devices such as displays, speaker systems and hard drives. With everything designed to give back more processing power than it needs.
The second level of work on these devices after shared inputs and interfaces would be for the processing chips on board to be run in parallel. Users being able to select one central device as the brain (control can even be passed around depending on which software is being run. Apps –> Software) which can help share the processing load wherever there are idle chips.
What this would look like in the audio example is this. Rather than the touchscreen of the phone being set to control the FX inputs of a reverb unit, the whole reverb FX processing could be handled by the phone and take some overhead away from the PC.