UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Baggy Trousers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8 Feb 2008

Yesterday in a post on Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket? I wondered what type of mobile devices we would be carrying on our person in 5 years time. James Clay “wonder[ed] if the devices will get bigger rather than smaller?” as the screen size is a factor for viewing images and watching movies and Mike Ellis suggested that “we’ll probably laugh at the number of devices we carry now“.

Paul Walk has admitted to a change in his views over the years:

I had a long running argument with a previous boss where he argued that we just needed all our gadgets integrated into one device, while I argued for smaller, focussed gadgets which could inter-operate with something like Bluetooth. The other day I bought an iPhone. He was right. I was wrong. I’m happy -)

A very interesting comment. In a technical environment I suspect James, Mike, Paul and myself see the advantages of the coupling of dedicated devices (as with networked applications) which could be coupled – and I suspect that was our view when we purchased HiFi separates rather than a music centre when we were younger (for example I still have my NAD amplifier, Dual turntable, Technics cassette player and Vision loudspeakers).

But Paul, who is a Mac fan, has changed his views. I can see the advantages of the single system (and I now listen to my music on my Sony combined DVD/CD player). But in other respects I prefer the flexibility of buying new devices as they come available and upgrading them as needed (I suspect a GPS device may be next).

But how will I carry all of these devices? I suspect I’ll be wearing baggy trousers in the future. Paul, on the other hand, may be wearing the tight-fitting Star Trek uniforms which, in the 1960s, we predicted would be the norm in the 21st century. Madness? Perhaps, but it’s interesting to speculate on how mobile devices and pervasive networks may affect what we wear.

6 Responses to “Baggy Trousers”

  1. Phil said

    When you can use an iPhone to pay for goods instead of cash and unlock your house then you will need to carry nothing else!

    The exception, of course, is specialist equipment. A serious photographer will want a serious camera, like your example with the hi-fi, for good quality playback, use the separates, for ease of use I use my computer speakers.

  2. Mike said

    There’s a middle ground – the “one gadget fits all” only works where integration is “right”. Making mobiles able to play music is a good thing (smaller is better, and someday we’ll be able to get to tunes in realtime using the mobile network); movies on mobiles is slightly more contentious: you definitely want *physically bigger* in this case for a better viewing experience.

    Capacity and power will continue to increase; size between human ear and mouth / vision capability / finger size is likely to remain the same…(at least for long enough for it to matter in technology terms..)

    Not sure I buy the “specialist will be separate” argument: that only works right now because quality tends to be lower in combined devices, not for any reason of usability or practicality. *If* your phone had a 20Mpixel camera with top quality lens, huge storage capacity and multi-camera functions then why not? Ditto with media players.

    Us old men are all deeply surprised and excited about “how things have changed since I were a lad” and “oooh, my Amstrad computer had 64K of memory – look at things now…”, we’ll find technology capacity increasing beyond anything we can hope to imagine.

  3. James Clay said

    Upon reflection I realised why I carry multiple devices around. The key reason is battery life.

    If my phone has GPS, plays video and/or music, internet, acts as a 3G modem for my laptop, oh and makes phone calls; then even with a large battery I don’t expect it to last the day.

    Spread the functionality over multiple devices and suddenly I can ensure that I can do all of the above, over catching the 6.30am train to London, all day in a meeting or a conference, and back again to reach home at 7.30pm.

    I have multiple devices as a single device can not last for the time I need it.

  4. Yvonne said

    It depends on the type of gadget involved. I already have way more functionality on my phone than I actually want (though having a camera in my pocket is very cool). But I still have separate hifi, because I want decent sound – hence 4 speakers, and Cambridge Audio amp. Also, it will be more expensive to upgrade things if all functionality is in one item. Personally, I think that for most things, interoperability is the way forward – and of course wearable computing, in which your trousers (whether baggy or Star Trek spandex) will be the gadget themselves.

    The title of this post made me think of the potential for PC Plod to mistake your gadgetry for terrorist equipment, as happened to David Mery.

  5. I remember back in the day when I had to carry around my brick phone, but it also doubled up as a useful torch!

    I’m still waiting for the killer product to come out but prefer to have a dedicated device for each task such as mp3 player and mobile phone seperate.

    I take loads of pictures and enjoy photography and now mobiles are starting to develop their cameras I can see an end to carrying around my mobile and digial camera.

    I’m sure the day will come when the ‘killer app’ is released, Apple have come very close already. Price will probably play a big factor too!

    Just my 2cents!

  6. I agree with everyone in a way. They’ll probably get bigger, do more tasks, yet serious users will want specialist equipment.

    I reckon size wise we’ve got as small as we need to.

    That is, until they implant the brain chips that let us watch video and listen to music by telekenesis or something. The power of thought – that would be handy (and more difficult to steal!).

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