I first saw Fractal painter and a Wacom tablet connected to a computer more than 20 years ago. I am not a graphic artist, nor can I draw well. But I was mesmerized by the potential that simple solution presented. I have owned a copy of Fractal Painter since that day. Now the program is powerful, but it isn’t as powerful in my hands as it in the hands of an artist.
That was my introduction not to what the potential of computing could be but what the future could hold. I say that in that way because there is a slight difference. I already, in 1993 when I was introduced to Fractal Painter knew that computing was coming, and would be huge. I had moved my entire professional life to the world of computers by then. I had used an electronic grade book as a teacher. I did my taxes on the computer and my first publication (“There are days you just want to go home”) was written entirely on a computer. It was more that I now saw the future of what was possible.
Personally, I thought the Pocket PC explosion of the early 2000 period was the next big step but I missed that one by a few years. I was of the expensive software cheap hardware mindset then, I’ve changed that quite a bit. It isn’t that I am completely a cheap software expensive hardware person now, its more that I realized the market needed a mix of both models. I also believed that innovation came from the fringe of the market only and the core couldn’t innovate. Apple proved that wrong.
I was horribly wrong about the pocket pc, but I was right about that market. It took the iPhone in 2007 to make that market a reality. The market however changed. Maybe changed is the wrong word. People used to make fun of me for the attachments I added to my PPC phone. I had external GPS and many other attachments for that including weather and others. Today those are for the most part integrated into the phone but the after market has exploded. You can get Geiger Counters, UV monitors, temperature probes and breathalyzers connected to your cellular device.
Along with the iPhone came the birth of connected objects that would later birth the internet of things (IoT). The Internet of Things (IoT) is possible without the cell phone. IoT is more about the explosion of the internet than it is the Cellular device. But the need for network expansion and capabilities was driven more by the cellular device and the desire for a mobile life style than anything. With the suddenly work anywhere, anytime lifestyle afforded by connected cellular devices the need and ability of other devices to be connected exploded.
Cellular as packet radio did before it, expanded the range of devices. Instead of expensive bounce off a satellite systems now you could create a small mesh network for sending and receiving data. The missing piece of the puzzle was the shift that no one talks about.
The change the iPhone brought wasn’t an explosion of IoT devices, yes those came and the plugins and adding exploded. What the iPhone and later the iPad, Android Phones and Android Tablets brought was the concept I call bite-sized-apps. As a long time PC user I was used to complex large applications that I ran on a PC- Like Fractal Painter or Microsoft Word. But now people were interested not in large applications but in small quick turn applications that could run effectively on a small screen.
I’ve talked over the past two years about the concept of the screen as a service. I still believe we are on the cusp of that change. Where the screen itself becomes an IoT object. You see you can connect to, consume and release IoT objects at will. The screen is moving in that very direction as well. Once the screen becomes a service than the need for PC’s begins to fade more. You will still need a more powerful processor than in your cellular phone to do some tasks. CAD-CAM, Fractal Painter, Adobe Photoshop and other programs will still need memory and processing but coming is the concept of the processor as a service, memory as a service. All of these are possible now with Cloud.
The only missing thing now is the continuation. The ability to without thinking quickly throw the Excel file you are working on from your phone to your tablet, from your tablet to a projector and back. I’ve talked about continuation several times in the past month. The future is the ability to transition effectively between computing platforms.
Perhaps tomorrow brings the concept of your home as a computer. Home automation, car automation, IoT devices and continuation turning everything into a useable compute platform. Imagine your self-driving car as a rolling computer. You could start working the minute you started driving.
All we need is continuation. The ability to seamlessly move from devices regardless of the device without having to do anything.
Screen as a service advocate