“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

The home: information, entertainment, communication

Some key phrases you hear lately in the press sound like …

“MegaCorp is creating its strategy for bringing the PC into the living room.”


“Networking company connects your office PC to your stereo.”


“MegaMegaPC is building a PC that stacks right in with your stereo.”

What do you see in common here? Its the nastiest two letters in HCI, In My Humble Opinion (IMHO; This will be the last time you see this spelled out). What is it about the PC? Why has such a technology that has past its prime stayed around without any real competition. Its not like they haven’t tried. Java Network Systems from Oracle and Sun were “the rage” way back when. e-Mail terminals and WebTV also had a small little outcrop in the late 90’s as well. But they all failed in comparison to the PC. So now because of those failures we are stuck with a product, basic OS interaction structure, and metaphor model that really doesn’t satisfy the growing new universe that is pan-device, multi-system, convergent, and pervasive in ways that a brick, even a laptop verion of a brick can satisfy.

This problem area is more than any other reason why I am going to Industrial Design school. The solutions are not out there yet, though some are trying. But I do know the solution is going to be some combination of design areas: space, social, behavioral, informational, physical form, network technology, etc. There are technologies on the horizon that are going to enable us very soon to just be connected whether we are under the ocean or in space, or in our home in the other room. The future is not peer-to-peer, not client-server, not mainframe, not thin-client, not thick-client, but all of these, revamped, rethought, and redesigned. To me the next 10 years is where we start making the Minority Reports, Star Treks, and other Sci-Fi computer universes reality. Some of these ideas, such as pervasive advertising, and constant location monitoring are scary as heck as we grapple with privacy issues, but the other advantages such as continuous monitoring for the elderly and otherwise disabled will give a new level of freedom to many.

I’m interested in where this is all going and how we can get to a future where I pick up a pad, say what I’m about to work on and the document is “transmitted” into its meory and when I say (not click save, say it) it returns back to its primary repository. These types of situations can’t be that far off, now that blue tooth, WiMax, and other wireless technologies are just around the corner and the ubiquity of “syncing” devices such as PDAs, MP3 Players, and Digital Cameras. Even our Cellphones connect wirelessly to the main computer to sync or to a headshet for wireless handsfree speech.

So, part of this space every so often is going to work on a new idea, crumb, meme that will take on this idea of the convergent living environment. Hope you join me.

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