Sounds like HP has been doing some “outside the box” thinking lately, if the prototypes in its Concept & Design Innovation Tour are anything to go by. Charged with designing the shape and ethos of the gadgets we’ll be playing with in 2016, HP’s futurologists have decided that less is definitely more – both in aesthetics and in componentry. Central to the concept is a futuristic bracelet watch, similar to the Fossil Starck watch to my eyes, which satisfies the eye candy with a holographic display and connectivity with UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) radio, which is far less power-hungry than Bluetooth or WiFi. Read on to find out just exactly what this clever watch will connect to…
HP see their watch as being a gateway to our own personal information cloud, where data is stored on servers rather than being lugged around in various miniaturised hard drives and accessed via a high-speed wireless connection. They demonstrated (non-working) prototypes of a convertible Tablet PC and slate-style Tablet, which would trade their own storage and wireless for greatly increased battery life.
Sharing information with a group could be as easy as slotting a closed laptop or slate Tablet PC into the nook in this desk, the top surface of which then becomes one vast interactive display. It also handily charges your portable units while they’re stored safely there.
Seamlessly feeding us information would be any number of these rollable display mats, in different shapes and sizes, ideal for monitoring webpages or rss feeds, tracking family schedules and playing games.
Something that I’d particularly like for my own home is this huge display with a shelf on which one or more of the holographic watches can be placed, charging in the process. The Smart Shelf then shows schedules and messages automatically. I think this would be really great for tracking where housemates and family members are, swapping messages and keeping up to date with rss feeds, emails and voicemails.
Finally, HP demonstrated their intent to make individual devices which serve one focused purpose extremely well, rather than “catch all” solutions that end up falling short in most areas. An example of this was an electronic wallet, which could track online banking and what was being spent on credit and debit cards in real time.
Will we see any of these in stores come 2016? HP are realistic in understanding that the current generation of technology – and likely the next few generations after that – won’t be enough to realise these prototypes in anything like their sleek, minimalist forms. Neither hardware nor the high-bandwidth wireless networks are anywhere near ready. But it’s certainly interesting to see which directions HP as a corporation sees personal computing going in, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if some of the industrial design shown in these concepts filters down – albeit diluted – into their upcoming consumer lines.