A Sketch of the Future of (Mobile) Computing

I saw two interesting tech news items from this morning.

Google Begins Testing Its Augmented Reality Glasses
Motorola is Turning Android into a Desktop OS

In the future, what data/apps/preferences are not stored in the cloud and streamed to your device will be encapsulated in a small digital token that you keep with you and plug into any available local hardware. The idea of lugging around a laptop or even a phone that is a physical container for your data will be utterly outdated. Consider: Your iPhone contains about 32GB of storage. You can, today, go into a Best Buy and get a 32GB mini-SDHC card that is the size of your pinky nail. The SIM card of your phone is equal in size.

So, the only thing that distinguishes your phone from any other phone in the world can physically fit on something the size of a fingernail. The only challenges are software ones: apps would need to recognize a larger set of hardware than they currently do, but Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have their own strategic initiatives to tackle that challenge.

So instead of plugging a phone into a pad (like the motorola thing), you will plug a tiny data crystal into any computing device, and have your data, your apps, your contacts, your photos, etc. all right there.

The augmented reality glasses are a way for you to always have some of your data available to you, even if you are away from a larger computing devices. Like with my Looxcie, it will be life streaming your experiences to your data crystal over bluetooth, and will have a minimal voice-activated dialer/phone interface that uses whatever local network is available. If you are on a mobile cellular network, it will use the subscriber information off your data crystal to connect to the cellular provider; if you are on a Wifi, it will use standard internet. (FaceTime & iMessage already does this.)

The crux is that data has traditionally been confined/jailed in physical devices, but storage has gotten so cheap and bandwidth has become so pervasive that this no longer makes sense. So the real challenge is to deliver a software development platform (and ecosystem) that allows developers to target multiple devices, contexts, and usage environments. Apple wants to do this by unifying iOS and desktop, and having storage use iCloud. Google wants to use Android as the underlying mobile OS, but both Google and Microsoft are betting on HTML and the web as the application environment.


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