Disclaimer: Most of the companies mentioned are customers of the author.
With the impact of COVID-19, sales of laptops, especially Chromebooks for education, have turned vertical, with several OEMs reporting shortages. But the most common cover design dates back to the early 1990s, long before recent advances in processor technology, GPUs, memory, storage, operating systems, displays, and even battery wording. We continue to play with different variants such as the following Microsoft Surface Neo But they are still far below what you would have expected them to be in the last 30 years.
There are three technological advances that are going to drastically change not only how we work, but also what we use, changes some of which are currently accelerating due to the ongoing pandemic.
5G and virtual windows
I will start by combining two technologies that together should lead to a massive change in what applies to future computers. With 5G, we get a performance similar to that of a wired fiber, which is not only related to the bandwidth, but also to the artificial intelligence technology that surrounds the modem, which optimizes the data flow and more and makes it at the same time performance and much more very reliable. For a virtualized cloud experience to work, you need a very strong connection, and 4G just doesn’t help us there. But, according to Qualcomm, 5G hardware will directly address this issue and provide those with 5G hardware with a way to have a virtual terminal with hosted workstation performance.
This advance would not work unless Microsoft stepped up and did so with Microsoft Virtual Desktop . The combination of these two means that you don’t need the processing power to run applications locally. Instead, you will run them in the cloud, shifting the focus on performance from what we currently consider as PC technology (processor, GPU, storage, memory) to modem and cloud itself, where you may see blockages.
This change should provide much more design flexibility than we currently have.
In the last five years, we have made a lot of progress in terms of head-mounted displays. Next HP Reverb 2 VR headphones will change the rules of the game as much as first edition from high performance a company . Current generations of virtual reality headsets have cameras so you can actually see your surroundings. Together with imaging software that can incorporate what the camera sees, it could solve life’s only problem with a head-mounted display: the inability to see a keyboard to position your fingers and be isolated from things around you.
Using a very high resolution head mounted display would solve one of the biggest problems with today’s laptops, the limited screen size. With a very high resolution, you can make the virtual screen you see on a head-mounted display, of any size you want, making large redundant monitors, offering a much more portable alternative.
This change also frees designers to be more creative when it comes to designing laptop cases, as the screen size will no longer limit them. It could even break down the keyboard and create portable layouts that connect or connect wirelessly to the display, keyboard, and head-mounted pointing device, which could also be modular.
It can be difficult to get excited about battery technology because we have had so many promising advances in battery power that have never reached the market. Part of the problem is that for decades we haven’t focused too much on batteries; Only in recent years have we reinvested in battery research and development. While this delayed approach has led to many false beginnings and disappointments, someone will probably understand correctly. A company called Echion Technologies from it suddenly looks interesting.
This Cambridge-born company has created a high-performance battery that can be recharged in just six minutes in almost any size. This advancement will not only revolutionize laptops, but would drastically overcome the huge problem of recharging electric cars.
What makes the technology promising is that Echion Technologies was not designed to develop the technology, but to market it. Although the one-year period to bring the technology to market has been too aggressive (given that it has been running for more than a year now), it seems to be still much closer to success than other technologies have had.
Another emerging technology is supercapacitors, which many thought would replace batteries in the last decade. Supercapacitors not only charge much faster than batteries, but do not wear out, making them ideal for both personal and car electronic devices. The shortcomings were energy leakage, energy density and costs. Although it is further than the Echion battery, this group involving Duke University and the state of Michigan it seems to have a viable model that seems to be within five years of being ready for commercialization. If you do this, this new alternative to batteries would greatly change the power dynamics of PCs and other personal technologies currently powered by batteries.
Since most of the articles I’ve seen showing this supercapacitor capability relate to portable devices, the idea of a small notebook PC becomes much more viable once this technology becomes real.
The imminent birth of a wide-ranging laptop
We have notebooks from the beginning of this century, but they tended to be very limited and focused on tasks in which a user works, needs a PC, but must also work hands-free. They have historically been used for things like inventory and more recently as high-performance virtual reality platforms (the HP notebook comes to mind). But they tend to be large, heavy and impractical as a daily solution for the computer.
However, if I were to reduce them, make them more accessible, give them a much better mixed reality headset, which would better integrate the user in both the real world and the virtual world and use cloud resources to increase performance, I think it would have. Done. something that has the potential to make everything on the market obsolete.
Over the next five years, all these parties should come together to create a computer revolution. While I’m at the office, I’m working to finish this column so I can put on my own VR headphones and play Half-Life Alyx (the first VR game that could lead to widespread use of VR), I remember how good it will be when I can disconnect and really use a PC wherever I am or want to go.