Ultimate Portability

Published Date
01 - Jun - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2006
Ultimate Portability
Thus far, portable computing is something that's strictly restricted to the upper management levels of almost every company. Unless your job role specifically demands that you be connected on the move, you're not going to be getting that company-provided laptop you're hoping for.

Let's say you're one of the senior sales executives in your company. You haven't reached the level in your company as yet where you're provided with a laptop and/or PDA. However, it would be nice to have access to the latest sales figures and perhaps information that could help you make your sales. A presentation or two wouldn't hurt either. Apart from the company not willing to spend the extra money, you also might not be too keen on adding another three or four kilos of weight to your everyday luggage.

This word has made a huge impact on portable computing. Before you knew it, cell phones, which used to be devices you only made and received calls on, started offering basic PDA functionality. Next came the camera phone, which put a phone, a PDA and a basic digital camera all into one ultra portable device.

Needless to say, sales figures went through the roof-everyone wanted the MFD of communication devices-and we have the success of various Nokia and Sony Ericsson "smart phones" to prove it.

Though technology improvements are shrinking products faster than ever before, the size of our fingers are limiting further shrinkage. Yes, it's the human anatomy and sight limitations that are keeping devices such as cell phones at a very standardised size. Too small a display and no one wants the phone; minuscule keypads also bring down sales. However, with smart camera phones getting better by the month, it's not hard to imagine that cell phones will soon be as powerful as the computers of today. When you think about it, current-generation phones already have faster and better processors than the first few generations of desktop computers!

However, we need a revolution in technology in almost every field before we can make true portable computing devices.

The Baddies
LCDs: Every mobile device depends on this technology to provide screens. However, being fragile and unbendable, they've limited hwo small laptops, PDAs and cell phones can get

Batteries: We're desperately seeking more battery power for all our devices. Just a couple of hours of charge for regular use is not good enough for them. What we need are batteries that can last a day. Though there are the options of fuel cells and other battery technologies available, it just seems easier to find components that use less battery power.

Input Devices: Keypads, touch screens, foldable keyboards-almost every innovation has been experimented with; we're now left with hoping that something revolutionary comes along and changes the way we interface with portable devices. Smaller keypads will just not cut it!

The Desire
OK, enough complaining! What the world needs is a device that has the functionality of a laptop, in a size comparable to a pocketable cell phone.

LCD technologies can be replaced by paper displays-this we already know. However, what if we could project the display instead of rolling it up? Perhaps even holographic displays are worth looking at, provided they're made to be less power-hungry. As of now, paper displays seem to be the answer.

So, considering that we have a cell phone with a powerful enough processor that can run, say, an OS akin to Windows XP, and use Flash-based storage as the hard drive, all that's left is a cool way to somehow bundle a full-sized keyboard into the mix, and you'd have the ideal portable computing gadget!

Thankfully, new technologies from companies such as iBiz (www.ibizcorp.com), such as their infrared/laser keyboard, which can display a virtual keyboard in front of you on any surface you choose, might finally do away with the space troubles associated with bundling a full sized QWERTY keyboard into a device.

If all goes well, you should be looking at the first ultimate portable computer in less than five years. A guesstimate, because the technologies that will power one are still being developed. But if the market is there, can the product be far behind? 

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