Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Coming Thing

Whenever I see coverage from the International Space Station, I am reminded of my work. So many of the devices and gadgets in orbit and on the job don't have front panel controls in the conventional sense; instead, you plug in a computer, either via a LAN or directly and increasingly, without any actual wires.

I was reminded of this by a major CATV provider's latest app: a program guide-based TV remote app for the iPad. (I wonder if it has a "randomize" feature?)

The clock's tickin'. It is only a matter of time before that phone in your pocket or purse becomes the "front panel" for nearly everything around you.

And it is very neat-o, too. Only -- what happens when your phone is misplaced or stolen? Man, you thought losing your keys was bad! (Look for your phone to replace your keys, too. Why haven't they worked up a garage door opener app already?)


For me, the only bar to phone - laptop fusion is that I need a decent-sized keyboard. My 1000-series Eee is about as small as I can use comfortably. Add a mechanical-feedback keyboard to the iPad (bonus points if it folds up like the early Motorola full-sizers -- and yes, they already did it) and a wordproc app as handy as Q10 and I'd be interested. Kinda hard to beat the Eee on price, though.


Rob K said...

"what happens when your phone is misplaced or stolen?"

You get another device and connect to your server, and you're back in business. Maybe you even send a message to your lost phone to start ringing and don't stop until it's found...

Turk Turon said...

The iPhone has a free app called "Remote" that can act as a remote control for your Apple TV. It's not infrared, it uses your home's wi-fi network instead. It's only a matter of time before it works on non-Apple TV devices, too.

Anonymous said...

My Android device can act as a remote for Songbird (which is like itunes) and for a satellite receiver already, anything else IP addressable is just a matter of software.

As for keyboards have a look at Samsung's Swype; it makes even a smaller virtual keyboard remarkably easy to use.


Linoge said...

So... fellow Brisco County, Jr. watcher, or purely coincidental post title? ;)

Speaking as a brand-new smart-phone user, I am continually astonished at what all it can do from my pocket... But, personally, I see it as an additional, remote control panel, not as the only way into my systems (largely, that is my desktop, which is another problem entirely). As for typing, my version vibrates when I press a key (which is nowhere near as good as actual keys, but at least it provides some feedback), but I doubt I will ever be able to thumb-type as fast as I do normally... Still, being able to check the news, manage my weblog, and keep an eye on the weather during the two-day blackout in Seattle was rather... useful.

John A said...


"Because of its Dual Profile Bluetooth Module the Freedom Pro Keyboard will also work with all devices that have built in support for HID Bluetooth keyboards."

Roberta X said...

Linoge: Total Brisco fan. I have yet to sell Tam on it, alas.

Thumb-typing, Swype" no. I wanna use the reflexes I already have to get thoughts out of my head and into the box as fast as I can, not have to learn new typing skills. And the hardware is out there. It's been out there -- one of the cel makers had a 3 or 4 fold fullsize keyboard almost ten years ago that was the same size as the phone it went with when folded.

jed said...

Bah. Give me front-panel knobs and switches.

Okay, I admit there are times when I appreciate being able to hit the mute button without having to get out of the chair. But for me, there's something about the tactile nature of interacting with things physically. Hmm, sorta reminds of that fountain pen deal Tam mentioned. And at least some of the time, I've found that I want the volume level somewhere between the steps provided, and there's no such issue with good old analog controls.

I think I shall be unable to avoid getting a smartphone soon. At some point, my existing phone will go kaput, and looking at Sprint's website shows no plain old phones available. Yeah, used -- maybe. If you can find a good battery. Oh, but lets not forget that AFAIK, you have to buy a data plan with those new-fangled gizmos.

But we're getting closer to the time when your home 'PC' will, for most people, consist of plugging your phone into a docking station, connected to your big monitor and full-size keyboard.

jed said...

Oh, forgot to mention that phones are going to be taking the place of credit / debit cards too.

Uh, no. I already hate it that my debit card has an RFID chip.

To say nothing of the possibilities with packet sniffing, if they don't get the encryption right.