If you couldn't tell, I'm pretty in to modular gadget design this week. I started the week talking about B-Squares and their push to make electronics modular and thus more easily customizable, upgradable and repairable. And now I'm ending the week with an interesting concept design that turns your common devices into puzzle pieces that create a laptop.
Designer Prashant Chandra, an industrial designer from New Delhi, India, had come up with a solution for combining a whole lot of independent gadgets. Instead of repeating hardware -- such as with an iPad acting as a larger version of an iPhone, an iPod acting like a lost part from said phone, and all of these acting as fragmented components of a laptop -- this concept combines the traits of devices to create a functioning laptop in order to reduce repetition and wasted hardware.
Chandra writes, "Our life in this IT age consists of these digital devices that we use everyday to do our work, entertain ourselves, enjoy our hobbies, save our memories and share and socialize with our family and friends. Presently we buy each one of these devices separately and then struggle to keep them all synchronised with our data. Also, we always use these devices one at a time. This means a lot of wasted hardware which is repeated in these devices and is sitting idle in one device when we are using the other. If there was a device that could have these devices integrated into one, thereby making ynchronization a seamless process and overall cost of ownership lesser than what I would spend for four individual devices, it would truly be my Lifebook."
Yanko Design notes, "Steve Jobs once said that people don’t know what they until you show it to them. This is probably why we have independent gadgets now vying for integration with features of mainstream products. Can your tablet take good pictures; is your cellphone smart like a computer; can your MP3 player shoot videos? Not only are we duplicating applications, we are also diluting the individuality of a device."
There's a lot I love about this concept. For instance, why not make a tablet double as the screen to a laptop? Why not make the music player double as the hard drive for music storage?
However, while there's a lot I love about minimizing hardware duplication and just grabbing a relevant piece of your laptop when you're headed out the door, there's also a good reason why people like to have each of these devices have overlapping functions.
If you drop your tablet while you're out and bust the screen, well you've also busted the screen to your laptop. No more work gets done until that can get fixed. Same goes for if you accidentally drop your music player in a puddle. If that's the only place your music is stored, you're screwed. No more listening to tunes until you get that fixed and the music loaded back up. There's also the battery life issue. And on and on.
Despite some of the potential issues with the design, you can tell from the drawings that it is really a gorgeous and compelling idea. I love how the components piece together.
So, how might we be able to create a Lifebook that addresses issues of useless duplication without losing the benefits of duplication that acts as a safety net? Ideas?