The Future in Mobile Computing18-Jun-2006
VIA Technology Fair
Article published for the convention
As part of the Technology Fair 2006, VIA asked CRE8 DESIGN to analyze and identify possible user-machine interface combinations for the Ultra Mobile PC platform (“UMPC”). A multi-disciplinary team from both companies cooperated to address how this new powerful platform could change the way we use computers in our daily life.
The new form factor of the UMPC falls in between laptops, PDA’s and mobile phones. While it is not a pocketable device, it is small enough to be kept close at hand. Therefore the platform’s success will highly depend on how companies solve an underlying need by creating niche- focused applications.
UMPC’s can communicate, accomplish complex tasks and keep the users entertained and informed wherever they go. Future devices should target those consumers and business people that are not eager to sacrifice computing power over mobility.
From a market perspective consumer communities are also growing more diversified in ethnicity, wealth, lifestyles and values. They are rebelling as they feel that standardization interferes too much with their personal life. Literature shows that while in 1970 they could classify 40 different lifestyles in the US, today this number is up to 66, a 65% increase.
Smart companies are starting to use a customization-by-clusters strategy where they find communities that exhibit similarities in demands. These are molded into manageable modules that are the right size to produce economy-of-scale. Even Wall-Mart ®, the sultan of standardization is, is testing customized store formats and product portfolios.
In line with this emerging customization-by-clusters strategy, the team decided to lock at the UMPC from a user’s perspective. Rather than reiterating usage scenario’s such as gaming, health management, sharing digital images, watching movies and so forth, we studied to see if we can introduce concrete device proposals that may be producible in the near future.
Criteria we looked at are:
- Combine documented usage scenarios into actual product solutions.
- Using full-blown Windows ®, the user wants a physical Keyboard.
- Focused niche applications (avoid the Swiss-knife effect)
Multiple user-focused concept proposals were presented by Kris Verstockt at the VIA Technology Fair 2006. They included an agenda sized computers with foldable full-scale keyboard, to electronic city-guides, shopping assistants and house butlers.