Friday, 8 April 2011

LIKE 23: Information in the palm of your hand

There seems little doubt that the future of computing is mobile. Eric Schimdt, Google's chief executive and chairman, recently said that soon mobiles will be able to "do things that we haven't even begun to think of." Numerous commentators seem to be predicting the same thing, backed up by the phenomenal sales of smart phones.

According to Mark Needham, Chairman of
Widget UK, the technology that drives these devices has actually been around for 20 years. Mark was talking at LIKE 23 on the subject of Information in the plam of your hand: evolution of mobile information access. He started his career working at Psion, makers of the first handheld computers, and has been in the industry ever since. Interestingly Mark thinks that future generations will recognise the devices we use today in much the same as we see many similarities between today's cars and the Ford Model T.

Continuing with the evolution theme, he suggested that one of the the first written references to a handheld computer was in the 1974 science fiction novel
The Mote in God's Eye. This book charts the first contact between humans and alien lifeforms and is noted for its attention to scientific detail. I was interested to see how the book was reviewed when it was first published. Martin Amis devoted a few words to it on the Observer's Science Fiction review (as an aside, his father, the novelist Kingsley Amis, wrote the Observer's Science Fiction review during the 1960s).

Mark was followed by Andrew Swaine from ARM, a technology company know for its processors and software development tools. Points made included that mobile development is all about power consumption and the battery technology. Also that the industry has been surprised at the success of apps, plus the problem of losing data is becoming a thing of the past as most devices now automatically save data.

Some sort of manageable keyboard was top of the wishlists that arose from the following discussion.

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