I don’t want to look like a dork—and I’ve got work to do

Posted: 10.01.10

I was brainstorming with some friends/clients about what a workstation would look like five years from now, and I said, “You’ll wear it.”

You will.

My model can be built now, well almost. But that’s about right timing for productizing, miniaturization and evolutionary developments of some of the prime components.

Here’s the model.

You wear glasses. Lightweight glasses that look like lightly-tinted sun glasses. On those glasses are high-res OLED displays with a focal length about a foot in front of you. The glasses also have tiny CMOS sensors in the corners that can see everything you do, in stereo, for AR applications, a small microphone is in the arm, and pizo speakers are in the ear tips behind your ears (with the batteries), offering counter weight (if needed) and connected to the processor via Bluetooth.

The system uses a processor—ARM or Moorestown—and is based in a package the size of a large mobile phone that can be put in your coat pocket, purse, briefcase, or pants pocket. It contains a TB of NAND flash, and all of the sensors found in a mobile phone.

Input is voice, gesture, or pen. In order to not look geeky and conspicuous (although we know some folks who strive to do just that with their tech-toys) the user can have a paper notebook and write instructions and text. The pen sends the taps and writing motions to the system (in your pocket or purse) and OCR in the system translates the written scrawls to text, and the taps to commands.

Is it a workstation, a PC, or a super phone? Yes, of course it is. Why do we have to label everything? Just to make marketers happy so they can categorize and try to differentiate? It’s my personal companion. It shows me spreadsheets at 2560x1600, in stereo, plays music for me while I work or drive (with noise cancelation), shows me movies (in stereo) and web pages, and calls the restaurant when I get within 25 miles.

What did I describe above that you haven’t seen or heard of? Could you or I fabricate one of these now? Absolutely. It might fall short on one or two parameters—weight, battery life, resolution, storage size, who knows, who cares—we’ve got five years of Moore’s law to fix that stuff.

Does it obsolete the PC? Yes. Does it obsolete the workstation? Possibly, if enough screen can be created and enough processing power. Does it obsolete the mobile phone? Of course, who wants a primitive tiny screen like that?

Do I have to wear glasses? Yes, don’t you already?

The real important question is not can it be built, but who’s going to do it? HP? Apple? Acer? Maybe LG, or Samsung, possibly Sony? See any good news in that? That there are so many candidates who could easily build it and market it.

So what are we waiting for? We can do it, there are companies who would logically do it, so let’s do it.

I offer to be the alpha test victim.

And what about the personal companion of 2020? That I think will be surgical, or an ear plug. No local processor as we think of clients today—just a cloud link. The display and input device will be the hard parts, and glasses may prevail. I can envision a stylish head band with camera sensors, a projection device that only the wearer can see, mics and earphones, and gyros and other sensors. Or maybe a couple of rings, one with a projector, others with accelerometers for inputting commands.

Nothing really too tough here, too scifi.

So I’m thinking about creating Peddie’s fourth law—if you can imagine it they will come.