July 03, 2005

CellPhones : The Next Generation

But for the world-wide-web, the biggest innovation that the world has seen in the field of communications has been the ubiquitous cell-phone. From being a humble device to talk from the field, it has enlarged itself -- functionally -- to accomodate a diverse range of facilities : PDA, organiser, camera, music, web access .... and no one knows what next.

However there is one aspect of the cellphone that is very troublesome : its need to balance size with functionality. As functionality increased, size increased and then technology advanced to bring the size back .... but there is a limit that is imposed not by technology but by human ability. The real pain is the size of the screen. How I wish I could not only browse the web but also open and READ files ... but to do so I would have to squint and strain and in the end it is simply not worth the trouble.

So here are my suggestions for tackling this problem.

1] Delink the display ( that needs to be large ) from the 'machine' that needs to be small. Have a tiny intelligent 'CPU' and an equally small display, for normal use, BUT have a small projector that will project the image on the wall. The same lens that is used by the camera to bring the large image of the world into a small image inside the machine can be used to project that small image that is formed inside. The first problem would be adequate power to project an image bright enough. I am sure that this would be solved through better batteries. The second problem is to find a wall good enough to project on .. something that is difficult inside a car or an airplane. [ you can also think of putting something of a serial port to connect to an ancient CRT / LCD device ... but that is to mundane a thing to do with something as glitzy and glamorous as a cellphone !!]

So here is my second big idea

2] Create a pair of spectacles where the stick that goes behind the ear carries a miniature (a) speaker ... for listening and (b) a contact microphone .. to pick up voice. This can connect to the 'intelligent' CPU in your pocket through BlueTooth. A primitive and clumsy version of this is available from Nokia today ... only that it is not integrated with your spectacles .. and so stands out like a sore-thumb. But that takes care of the voice communication .. so what about the display ? For that we need a small 'heads-up-display' style device that is being talked about in military technology and in wearable computers.

This technology is almost there .. and consists of a tiny projection device that projects an image directly on the retina and as a result the person sees what seems to be a big image.

Net-net : the combination of a smart 'pocket' device that packs in the full functionality in a miniature together with a separate user-interface device ( for video and audio data ) is the way to solve the problem ( reminds me of normalisation of RDBMS data !!)

Initially the display can be a projection on the wall ( imagine what it can to you PowerPoint presentation ) but in the long run it has be integrated with something that people are used to wearing near the eye and the ear : and the only artefact that meets that specification is a pair of spectacles.

Is is time to invest in RayBan shares ?

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