Wearable Computing is My Only Mobile Upgrade Alternative

I thought about it. Got frustrated. Got into a heated discussion with someone. Bored a friend with the same rhetoric he’s been haring from me for years. Took a nap. And then started paying attention to my rhythms. Wearable, context-shifting, mobile technology is my only logical upgrade path.

As I live right now, there are a few mobile phones, a few tablets, and the availability of a PC. I don’t own a printer, most of the information that I deal with I archive, share, or store for compiled references later. And I occasionally write, teach, present, and have long periods where I’m in motion. In a very real sense, where mobile computing is today isn’t good enough for me.

Imagination’s Influence

Some years back, when I saw the Nokia Morph Concept video for the first time, I got very focused on this intertwined digital lifestyle. I saw a device that lived “with me” not beside me. There was attention to it personalizing itself to my contexts, but also something that was powerful enough to exist even in my most demanding productivity needs. It sparked my imagination in a way that frankly speaking still itches pretty badly.

I tried to make it happen. I moved from the Palm devices, MS Exchange ecosystem, and desktop/laptop paradigm for the Nokia N75 and N800 Internet Tablet. I knew that things weren’t going to happen overnight, but I did have this feel that I should at least get associated with the folks moving in that direction, there’ll be other advances to come. The N800 was especially intriguing because it was in that device/platform that I saw a system being built that would eventually foster an ecosystem (user experience) that molded itself to how I wanted to live. I got it. I just needed it to happen.

Unrealized Futures

Many devices and a few platform enhancements later, I’m not all that much closer. I see where several companies are trying to build out those ecosystems, but nothing yet has made me stand on the edge of my seat and say that I can grab it.

And I think that’s in part because I’ve not be the best at describing what exactly mobile should evolve to. After that nap tonight, I found it. And wouldn’t you know, it was Nokia who showed as much a good four years ago too.

Reshaped Normals

Mobile and connected experiences are the normal. Being disconnected is considered disadvantaged. Certain kinds of connectivity – broadband, context awareness, AR – are being refined towards that normal use as well. The eventual vision is that computing isn’t a layer on top of your life, but is a part of how you exist everyday. Frasier Spiers has mentioned as much in his on-going experiment/implementation of iPads for the school he is an IT admin of (there’s a 1:1 ratio of iPad to students and teachers). When its normal to be in that connected, sharing, exploratory space, you start living differently. That much is what I’ve noticed within myself, and I kind of want to take it a notch further.

Right now, my mobile is personalized because I’ve programmed it that way. With the exception of activities controlled by Nokia Bots, my mobile needs to learn. I’ve got glasses, drive often, and usually am dealing with two data stores (personal and MMM). I’d love for the mobile to fade further into the background as a control-server, but then my car and glasses become a part of the display and input environments that I can use to stay productive.

Computing by Living

Years ago, I got wrapped into the journeys and explorations of Jan Chipchase. He’d taken a fresh eye to everything in his world, and asked questions about it all. He looked to be amazed by it all. And then when mobile/tech had become a part of the conversation, it was those uses which were natural that tended to stick out. How I wanted to live because influenced by thinking that I live. Stopping at a terminal started to feel less like living – even when I was connecting to people and things I was interested in. It always felt better when I could move through my environment, and computing just happened to be there.

Hence this feeling about wearable, contextual computing as being my only viable upgrade path. Life made up of less of the  device and more of the blended experiences that a device and services can something stick their heads out of and show themselves valuable.

That’s the only innovation that I can see being of definitive value for me in respect to mobile. Everything else (smaller, shiner, more cores), is just a badly produced rerun.

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