Device convergence in our pockets

By Ross Dawson on March 3, 2008 | Permalink

An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled Is that a computer in your pocket? examines how mobile phones, PDAs, portable computers and more are converging. It quotes me as follows:

According to Ross Dawson, chairman of the Future Networks think tank, other obstacles will also frustrate users looking for a portable mobile computing solution. The first is the limitation of existing small screen technologies to give a satisfying viewing experience. The second is the need for a more efficient means of inputting data on the device or through accessories such as fold-away keyboards.
He adds that the usability of a mobile for computing functions is also dependent on whether you must hold it to your ear or not.
“When you do that you cannot see it. Although more people are using ear buds or Bluetooth, they are still the minority. If you are making appointments when speaking to someone you need to have a separate interface”.

While there are many issues at play here, the interfaces to mobile devices are probably the most important factor in how they will be used in the future. I’ve written before about the role of video glasses and portable displays in making mobile devices more embedded in our lives. Similar issues of interfaces and immersion apply in home entertainment and living online.
I absolutely believe that mobile devices will be central to our lives and even entertainment, however first the interfaces for input and output must become seamless and compelling. The current generation of mobile devices and peripherals is on the verge of that becoming reality.