Replacements for Smart Phones and Tablets

As if the remind us not to get complacent about the state of technology – what’s popular and what’s not – there has been a spate of announcements lately of new technologies that some think could replace computer devices as we know them.

For the past two years, the big buzz has been that smartphones and tablets are revolutionising the use of technology, replacing laptops and notebooks and the very old fashioned desktop. Whether they in fact do a complete replacement is still up in the air. There are lots of applications out there that require laptops and even desktops and – hold your breath – monitors connected to large mainframe computers.

A lot of these are in business and in science. In business, companies are not in a position to replace all their legacy systems at once, and many of them are still locked into old style computer systems, even while they are racing to catch up with the mobile device phenomenon.

But now, when they are just starting that catch-up process, there are these new devices. And they have a lot of potential for further revolutions.

One of them is a new light bulb type of device that screws into a traditional light socket. Named, LuminAR, this device includes a powerful small computer inside a light bulb type of enclosure and projects images onto nearby surfaces, such as desk or wall. It can project a touch screen, no less, and uses WiFi to connect to the Internet.

The potential applications for this device challenge the imagination. They could, for example, be used to demonstrate products in a store, and provide instant access to more information about them. They could be used to lay out maps for navigators. They’d be great for working with photographs and other displays. There is a good article on them in Technology Review (

Wearable computers is another area of quickening innovation. It’s not new in concept. In fact wearable computers including jackets, belts, hats, sweaters, you name it, have been discussed and researched for over a decade now and the military has been using them for some time. But the game is heating up.

Google announced its Glass earlier this year, which would mean wearing your computer as a pair of glasses. And now, Vuzix, a company based in Rochester, New York, has announced Vuzix Smart Glasses M100, which contain a microphone, an earpiece, a camera, and motion and GPS sensors, and can run a version of the Android mobile operating system. This could be a game changer.

Projectable light bulb computers, wearable computers. And then more future oriented products could include biological nano-computers that can be embedded in a person’s body, and holographic computers that can create three dimensional objects and scenes, just like StarTrek’s Holodeck.

Given that we are only about 35 years into the personal computer revolution, which is not a long time in the grand sweep of human endeavour, it’s can be fascinating to think of what kinds of computer devices we might see in the next 35 years – or 100 years.