iPad next?

The iPad is the premier tablet and it’s probably nearly the perfect size and weight for its form factor.  That’s not to say that within the form factor there is no room for improvement. A screen that takes up most of the face should be a near term target, as should an auxiliary screen on the back face that provides bright light reading and low power / speed interactivity for those who don’t live indoors all the time.  To support the iPad as a companion device, multi level security is a growing need.

Make the bezel the same on the iPad as minimal as possible (get rid of the push button) push the screen out to the edge, don’t change the shell size. This with continued pixel densification will put the screen on another level altogether.  Make thumb and palm detection native and intelligent enough to enable me to rest my palm on the screen and write with a stylus as if the screen were regular paper.

Put an eInk reader panel on the back to enable the display of text and graphic art, this will enable high light low power reading applications and some other limited visual bandwidth applications such as phone etc. (This will be accomplished with a smart cover but it would be cool if it were integral with the iPad.)

The radio suite & battery life along with the camera, face time, GPS, and other built in sensors are probably good enough not to call for increases in size weight, but neither should they be decremented.

The iPad is far to big a part of many people’s eLives to leave to the pitiful protection it has today.  We need multi level security, enable me to turn the iPad on as if there is no security for consuming web pages, playing games, and using certain apps.  But for other functions use face recognition, symbolic coding other than a number pad, voice recognition, retina image recognition and even finger print recognition in combination to protect various levels of data in the unit.

Enable cyber security with one or more over watch processors that is not linked to the outside world for some level of checking to make sure that the tablet has not been compromised.   A version of this ‘chip’ may be linked to a secure remote system (short-range) so businesses or organizations can disable certain functions of the iPad remotely to make sure that pictures, audio, or other data cannot be put into memory without authorization.  This Big Brother functionality is a bit daunting but at least the over watch processor is probably going to be needed.  The full BB may be an external attachment and not integral so one can shed it easily….

The Apple Machine

I think there is some weariness in regards to apple product intros these days, I sense that the press (in general { there have been folks who’ve kind’a felt this way for a while}) is actually beginning to feel a bit used by Apple (and they are probably right though they only have themselves to blame.)  I feel the same way though I totally blame the press for not having the guts, smarts and knowledge to branch out more generally into tech reporting, there are vast areas of technology that are poorly covered and even ignored because they are boring old tech.  Much of this old tech is boring because no one reports on it and promotes it like Apple promotes their products…making it easy for the press to hang on like lampreys.

Apple uses the press as an advertising amplifier, its one of the things that the other tech companies have either lost or never had the ability to do.  It costs a lot to be a showman but it pays back, however its probably impossibly hard to quantify the cost or the payback to a financial guy before you go and do it.  Jobs knew what he was doing and how to do it in his bones, and inculcated it in the bones of his legacy but the MBA’s hate anything that is not quantifiable…this aborts new ‘Apples.’  But even at Apple, without Jobs, there is a good chance that the MBA’s will chip away at the Apple marketing/sales/advertising/etc machine in the name of profits and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

iPad , iPad

Not sure what I think about the iPad these days, it’s still the single most used computing device I own but to be honest its the one that I would give up first as well.

Which seems odd.  But while I can do many things with the iPad (reader, Music, light blogging, internet addiction) even creative and work related if I have to, it is by its nature more limited in the depth of work that it supports.  It allows one to create a document and presentation or spreadsheet very well but linking them together is far harder than on a PC.  The scientific calculators I have worked with are simply remarkable but their results are hard to integrate with other packages.  Pictures etc are the same, it’s not that the iPad can’t it’s just that with the App model and its flat file structure you cannot organize or cross pollinate work like you can on a PC.

I am sure that many out there would argue with this, they probably feel that the iPad is liberating or does this or that better than any PC, and they could be right.  I also think that I could get used to using the iPad for many more things, but the effort to change over and figure out how to do things differently would be a very deep time sink.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is a remarkable development, the culmination of many attempts over a long time, but it’s not clear that it’s the be all that some, even I, thought it  to be.

That said you’d have to pry my iPad out of my cold dead fingers if you just wanted to take it away now (though if you’re thinking of mugging me for it, you can have it, gives me an excuse to go buy a newer one.)

I am disappointed that no one has developed a better stylus technology, for the iPad.  It needs a pen like system as well as the finger painting mode (the Blue Tiger device that was being hyped a few months ago seemed promising.)  And I also feel that the iPad could do with a daylight readable screen at the current or only slightly higher resolution, with a longer battery life, faster processing and graphics and better error handling (than my old iPad v1).  One cool idea would be a two-faced version.  One with eInk on one side and the existing screen on the other.  That way you could do what you most often want to do in daylight, read and interact with documents, and you still have all the capability of the main screen on the other side.

Ah well, who knows what’s to come in the months and years ahead.  Hopefully someone at Apple will think of a better way of doing the things I want the iPad to do.


Jaja: Worlds first pressure sensitive iPad Stylus

This project to develop a better iPad Stylus is a Kickstarter, crowd sourced project, i.e. the project is funded by putting the prospectus on the website and asking for a set amount of funding to get to the next level.  This is an approach to funding that is taking off big for many types of effort and holds a great deal of promise for W.R.Mead’s Post Blue Model (on which more later.)

The project itself looks reasonably conceived and has what in some circles is called off ramps, that is pieces of the technology that may be of value in their own right. 

jaja cutaway

jaja cutaway

I do have to say that eventually I think a non-capacitive system, maybe even an old style optical dig pen will be needed in addition to the capacitive if the iPad is to reach its peak functionality.  Which is what this Technology Review blog post, Will Designers Take to the iPad3? talks about.  The answer in my opinion is no, I am not a professional but am somewhat ProAm and I find that while the iPad has its liberating effect (frothed about elsewhere) it still has some irritating downsides at times.

The iPad, Pandora and life


iPad, Pandora App

I’ve said it before but want to  reiterate that Pandora + iPad have made a deeper impact on how I live my life more quickly than any other technology change.  And in some ways that change is more ‘SciFi-ish’ than any other change I have experienced.

Don’t get me wrong other things have had more impact but they were much more profound in and of themselves.

  • Smashing my ankle
  • First Car
  • First Real Job
  • First House
  • Getting Married
  • First Child
  • Second Child
  • First Child going to college….

How can I even compare two pieces of Triviachology like the iPad and Pandora you ask?

Well I have worked from home a significant amount of time since 1997 and I have very consciously tried to limit the amount of paper I generate and find ways to get information in electronic rather than paper form.  I have felt that the eReader was going to reach takeoff eventually and while the pundits always poo poohed it I saw a steady decrease in the Paper load in the engineering world probably a leading edge in the utilization of information that had made it paper heavy for a very long time. When the piles on young and not so young engineers desks began to collect dust I figured it was because they weren’t shuffling through them so often any longer because the primary sources were in electronic not paper form.  The paper was for reference and for making notes on (BtW Paper / print / writing / reading is a fantastic intricate and powerful technology if you stop for a moment to think about it.)

Now I can carry around a single small compact rugged and handsome slab of Al and Glass that is book, magazine, note taking device (typing or hand writing, I take copious ‘ink’ notes on my iPad, Check out the Penultimate app if you want to try it.) calculator with some of the calculators capable of solving and displaying very complex systems of equations (MathStudio or SymCalc HD) and I do some quite complex artwork for fun and other purposes using ArtStudio.  I load a lot of papers and other tech pups (pdf) onto my iPad (iBooks) so I can read them at my leisure. 

Now the iPad is no replacement for a laptop (for me.) But unlike many commentators I do not see that as anything but a special case. It is a fabulous adjunct, extender, even amplifier, but I see it as a reasonable laptop replacement for certain users, especially those who are more interested in consumption than creation.  To be honest I think the combination of an iPad and a smart TV may be all that an even larger cadre of users need.  But that does not denigrate the iPad as a consumption device, it’s an adjunct amplifier to your digital life, that can be a replacement under certain limited circumstances.

So…there you go the iPad as significant life changer, what about Pandora?

Well here my story is a bit weaker and it’s really the combination of Pandora and the iPad and to an extent Netflix streaming service.  And let me tell you right now that I hate TV’s in the bedroom and my wife is addicted to the BBC versions of many US TV procedural cop shows..and insistes on watching them (on her iPad) late at night if she can’t get to sleep……I must have been bad in a very twisted way in some previous life…! Anyway Pandora in itself was a revelation, as I have said before it mix of being able to select music you like and then let it go off and find things similar in ‘feeling’ has opened me up to huge swaths of music I had never heard before.  Add that to the ability to have that music with me most of the time with the iPad and one can feel a bit like one is living in a movie with your own sound track, though I found this soundtrack doesn’t do a good job of foreshadowing the next scene.   And even though I curse Netflix fairly regularly it is nice to be able to browse in ‘the long tail’ of shows, see things I never had a chance to watch, like BBC’s Primeval, or some Nova or History Channel programs. 

So while those two services are not responsible for as profound a change as the iPad is in itself, added to the iPad they are a very profound change in my and my family’s habits…and as one would expect not always for the good.

IPad Neflix App

iPad Netflix App

Future of Computing…Circa 2012…..

Just eye-candy from APODnothing to do with computing

Several article/posts at PCMag.com that paint interesting picture of the near future. This one by M. Miller in Forward Thinking discusses next generation chips, tablet chips but also the direction of all chips. At the latest AMD chip conference

…strongly pushing the idea that the future of microprocessors will not be just traditional CPUs, or even the combination of CPUs and graphics processors (GPUs), but instead will consist of all sorts of “heterogeneous” processor cores working together.

In the article there were a couple of interesting tidbits….the doubling in speed with ~doubling of transistors per area faded over the last few years, one of the things driving multi core. Also today’s high end pocketable units have rough equivalency with 2001 supercomputers. Memory and peripheral speed obviously hit that raw performance as well as non optimized development environment.

Then this piece also under Future Thinking, discussing the direction of LCD and AMOELD and related technologies, there are several others not mentioned but this article is a good discussion of the near term mass production technologies.

Then there is an end of 2011 discussion by Tim Bajarin on the coming of Hybrid tablets, something like a Mac Air with a separable screen ~ tablet. I use my iPad (like right now) for a lot of light to medium duty tasks I once had to use my laptop, I sometimes use a Bluetooth keyboard (though not right now.) Can some one could come up with an ultrabook class laptop with enough additional functionality to make the added cost worth it? TB says he thinks WI 8 might be a leader, could be but iOS seems muscular enough….except maybe multi windowing…we’ll have to see.

New Age of Discovery | iPad, Pandora and the

Stars and Gas in the Milky Way Galaxy
OK, I have to admit that I have done most of my posting from the iPad for the past couple of weeks, it does make micro blogging pretty danged easy. The iPad continues to amaze me it is the single most life changing device I have ever used. No it is not the god machine and Steve Jobs, though a genius (with a lot of help from his team), was not a messiah. But the device and the infrastructure it accesses with such elegance have changed how I live in ways and at a speed that no other single device has (baring perhaps my license/first car.)

Telecommunications technology (phone and TV), the computer, the micro chip, the mini computer, the calculator, the personal computer, the internet, the cell phone, the laptop and now the tablet computer have each in their way had a profound impact on my life but each one though important in some particular piece of my life had little effect on other parts. The iPad has changed how I read, what I read, how I create, what I create, how I communicate with my wife, what entertainment I enjoy and when. It is my constant companion and I would be lost without it. This has never been true of any other device to the same extent though my laptop and cell phone are close, more because of how important they are to one or two important parts of my life, unlike the iPad which has had a broad impact on most of my life.

Is this good or bad? One part of me wants to say it has to be good, otherwise why would it have taken over so thoroughly, it allows me access to the web at almost any instant to look up info or browse, I use it to keep me amused at the club, etc. Another part wants to say bad, because there is no denying that I have been more sedentary (big word for sitting on my ass more) since I got the iPad, and I in fact have not read as many books since I got the iPad. Pull back for the big picture and I think that the iPad has enables changes in how I live my private life, and that good or bad is what I make of the changes it enables, because there is nothing that I used to do that it forecloses by its existence and use.

Though not as high impact as the iPad, Pandora is the other technical insert in my life that I feel I would miss profoundly. I am currently listening to it Jennifer Thomas’ Beautiful Storm, a piano piece with orchestral background, a strikingly beautiful piece of music I doubt I would ever have heard if not for Pandora. Over a period of a couple of years I have slid sideways from Nickleback, to Shinedown, to Adele, Glitrap, Jes and more. Music discovery is what Pandora is all about and I think I’m better off for it….

And that brings me back to the iPad and its impact….one of the things it does is make discovery easier, discovery of new memes, of new sounds, new skills and new voices. It allows me to fill in the little wasted cracks of time in my life with more discovery.

Two posts this week have dealt with 3D printers, what I think of as stereolithographic machines. And the computer controlled 3D wood carving machine I saw in Rockler catalogue. The Maker movement is all about discovery, the DARPA crowdsourcing initiative is all about discovery. So is it that the iPad and Pandora are my first windows into this new age of discovery?