First, Happy New Year to all! I hope you’ve had a great holiday season. I decided for the new year I would begin two new series instead of just posting my photos, poetry and political rants. The first series will be called ‘Idea Mea’. This will be short essays on ideas for products I haven’t seen. So if you are in product development somewhere, it might be a good idea to follow along in case you might have the opportunity to steal the next great idea for a product from me. The first Idea Mea here will be about gadgets.
By now everyone out there has gotten their new holiday gadgets. Laptops, smart phones, e-readers, audio players and a host of other cool electronics available out there on the market. Keep in mind the current life cycle of most electronics products nowadays is less than two years. So whatever you got, within the next two years you’ll want a new one. In 1979 as a student of communications I diagramed an all-in-one gadget that included a phone, video and music player and other functions. The notes were stolen and years later the idea materialized as if by magic.
So now I am revisiting my original design concepts in comparison to what we currently have a available. First I will list the various functions we want the most:
-Still and Video Camera
-Memory Card Storage
-broadcast TV receiver
-radar detector (only because I drive extensively)
Now the fact of the matter is that many of these are available in the host of new gadgets out there. But there are two other factors to consider. One, how interoperable is the gadget? And two, how interconnected is it? Here’s what I mean. Currently you have several size gadgets. A phone size, a mini-tablet size, an ipad size, a laptop size and a big screen TV size. You spend hours loading your videos, music, books, internet bookmarks, contacts and data. But how easy is it to move this information from one gadget to another? Sure, you have the ‘cloud’. But how many of us really trust the ‘cloud’? And if you can’t connect with the ‘cloud’ somewhere, what good is it?
Well the issue boils down to manufacturers as competitors. They prefer to keep things proprietary to stifle competition. This includes software, operating systems, connections and even power supply connections. Anyone else have drawer full of power supplies? So we spend tons of money upgrading our products and getting not too much more for the bucks we invest. In the meantime the old gadget is virtually worthless. So why can’t we keep our email addresses, contacts, bookmarks, music, videos, books and data on one memory card that is readable by any gadget? Ask the manufacturers.
The second issue is ‘interconnection’. Does anyone aside from electronics gurus know from memory every single type of connector and connection out there? Mini-plug, RCA, HDMI (currently on version 2.0), Firewire, USB (A or B), USB mini (A or B), USB Micro (A or B), DVI, Optical Audio and the list goes on. And are they always compatible? No. Surely there are technical reasons for many of the differences. As a technician I know that to be a fact. But in many cases, the manufacturers prefer exclusivity and proprietary connections to make you buy another cable to do the same thing that a cable you have stuffed in a drawer because you don’t know what it is, already does.
So what is the ‘ultimate’ gadget? Or should I say gadgets? The ultimate gadgets are the ones where one size gadget can do everything the other size gadget does. And where you can move all of your information from one gadget to another, simply by inserting the ‘same’ memory card that works in the other gadget. (I won’t even bother to get into the many different types of memory cards) The ultimate gadget is the one where you can use any of your different size gadgets as a cell phone or video phone because your memory card has your phone carriers information on it also. The ultimate gadget is the gadget that has the interconnectivity to use the same connector to connect it to other gadgets so you can view your work on a larger or smaller size screen any time you want. Or you can connect it to any audio amplification device or to any large screen TV. Currently, in some instances this can be done wirelessly. But we don’t always have wireless capability.
So what else do you feel the ‘ultimate’ gadget should have? Let me know and share this with others. Maybe within a few years we’ll have an ‘ultimate’ gadget. An ultimate gadget that doesn’t have to be replaced every two years. Nah, that won’t happen. Modular electronics will never work. But hey, steal this concept, please. And just remember, I told you so (just in case I have enough money to sue you like the big boys seem to enjoy doing to each other nowadays).