PDA form factor (was: Thoughts about iWalk)

Jeff Bone jbone@jump.net
Fri, 04 Jan 2002 11:11:01 -0600


Eugene Leitl wrote:

> The only thing still amazing me is that it hasn't happened several years
> ago. People are just slow, I guess.

Nope, several things.

* It's the lack of acceptable HUD technology;  Dave the VP of Sales isn't
going to walk around with some contraption on his head that makes him look
like a socially maladapted refugee from some darkened Media Lab basement.
(Hell, most people haven't even taken to keeping their cell headsets on all
the time, despite the advantages of doing so.)  The displays have to be
smaller, less obtrusive, and less bizarre-looking for mainstream adoption.
IIRC, UofWash folks were doing some research a few years back on using
low-powered lasers mounted in eyeglasses frames to paint images directly on
the retina;  somebody else was using a passive eyeglasses lens medium and
low-power IR diodes to paint images on the inside of the lenses.  Anybody know
what the status of any of this kind of stuff is, these days?  When will I be
able to get variable-alpha SVGA superimposed on my field of vision for under a
grand?

* The pricepoint needs to come down, too --- $1000 for the system might be a
reasonable number, or perhaps (if viewed as a substitute for a laptop, etc.)
as high as $1500 as an entry point.

* The full integration of all the various functions needs to happen.  Nobody's
going to wear a Gnome desktop around the office;  the environment needs to be
cool, slick, well-integrated, and qualitatively different (i.e., the desktop
metaphor's gotta go) in order to establish the device as a different category
of thing.

*  There needs to be a plethora of apps that take advantage of the unique
characteristics of the device in order to drive demand.

I'm with you, though, Gene:  right now we've got two general classes of
device:  general-purpose read-write, and portable read-mostly.  Wearables are
the next general class, and will be the first to *truly* blend those functions
in a seemless way.  And more:  doing so yields something greater than the sum
of its parts;  mediated reality is a qualitatively different and vastly more
powerful thing than we've ever seen before, intimate computing of a higher
order than most people recognize.

jb