Back at Thanksgiving, I bought a smartphone to replace my dino-phone. Since then, I realized how amazing it is to have all of that computing power in my pocket, and after attending the ELI Spring Focus Session webinar last week, it reinforced my belief that smartphones are going to rule the world in a couple of years. I think the first reason is because of their price.
Being relatively cheap computing devices, people who can't affort a real laptop will still feel the need to get a cell phone. It's cheaper, and everyone needs to be connected now. Thanks to Moore's law, powerful devices will become relatively cheaper every year, and the wireless carriers will (hopefully) come up with affordable data plans.
Figure 1 below is your typical modern smartphone (pick yours: iPhone, Blackberry, Android).
Now, imagine what would happen if you could actually use the computing power of your smartphone with better more ergonomic environments. Figure 2 below shows how a smartphone could be dropped on a powermat to be recharged and connect automatically to the desktop "dumb shell" (I have seen this concept before on blog posts, will try to find the reference), an inexpensive set of peripherals that would kick in as soon as you dropped the phone on the mat via the magic of BlueTooth or something. All of a sudden, you have a decent work environment that can be replicated everywhere you work the most: at home, at the office, at airports, in an hotel room, etc. So now what do we have? A decent workplace experience when working for real, and a portable convenient experience the rest of the time.
Now that the desktop has been sent to the landfill (or wherever you're supposed to send an old computer...), what about my wallet? Figure 3 will take care of this. Based on the principle of the Bump iPhone and Droid apps, you could simply bump you phone on the cash register at your favorite fancy coffee place to complete a transaction. In addition to the convenience of paying electronically the way you want (debit, credit, some sort of limited cash amount, recharged regularly like an EZ-Pass, etc.), this would allow the coffee shop to go paperless by transmitting your receipt to your phone, would could then relay it to your banking software for your records. Sweet, eh?
A little more far-fetched is the idea of a dumb laptop, a portable processor-free, cheap, and light portable workstation. See figure 4.
An then, there is the ultimate social media junkie couch potato's dream: the dumb living room (figure 5). By simply slipping your smartphome in a pouch next to the recliner, your whole living room becomes your computer and smartphone. Someone calls? Press "Answer" on your TV remote and the microphone hanging from the ceiling will put you in communication.
So, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, (not Apple), please make my day and steal these ideas. All I ask for is my name in fine print somewhere. Deliver us from our laptops!!!