Mobility

Lenovo shows contextual computing in its ThinkPad X1 Carbon at CES 2014

Lenovo latched on to one of our top four professional trends of CES 2014 by demonstrating how its ThinkPad X1 Carbon takes advantage of 'contextual computing.'
 

In my pre-CES 2014 predictions I  put "Contextual computing" on the list, admitting that it wasn't well-known thing yet and I basically made up the name because I had to call it something. However, at least one tech company was comfortable enough with the phrase to start using it. 

When we interviewed Lenovo executive Tom Butler, he showed us how the new ThinkPad X Carbon has a new adaptive row of virtual function keys that change depending on the application you're using. He also introduced us to the X1's touchless camera gestures and voice controls that Lenovo added on top of Windows 8. All of this is about your technology adapting itself to you rather than you having to learn the special procedures to operate the machines. That's contextual computing. Watch a little bit of it in action in this three-minute video clip.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Carbon has an adaptable row of virtual function keys.
 Image: CNET

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Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.

7 comments
boveri
boveri

Sorry, I found the clip

boveri
boveri

There was no video clip, only a photo.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

The concept is a good one, but people are creatures of habit. They're not going to understand the idea of function keys changing on a per-application basis even though their menu bar at the top of the window (screen) changes with each one. Once people get used to it they'll appreciate the change. But some people simply don't want to learn new things.

FTAdmin
FTAdmin

Funny how technology is re-purposed and then claimed as new. I've seen old flip phones--heck even really old desk phones--use buttons that change according to the "app" you are in. The buttons themselves are either not marked or have fixed markings, so that the screen declares their functions. I'm sure you've all seen this before.


Android... I'm not terribly familiar with Android phones, but I thought I saw one that had changing buttons, ones that they themselves changed, not declared by the screen. Or maybe they just hid when not used. Don't really remember.

Heck, my car has contextual computing on it. The entire center console is computer controlled and has soft buttons. They change according to whether I'm controlling the cab climate or the drive mode.


I guess what I'm saying here is that this "contextual computing" has basically been around for some time, in one form or another.

At the very least, it's nice to see that the F-key row on that laptop is a lot clearer to see, as opposed to the usually cramped icons and characters.

adornoe
adornoe

Most applications are "contextual computing", without having to coin the phrase.


Developers have to design different applications with different controls, and those controls already exist on the screen or on the keyboard or mouse or touchpad.  Giving the "controls" different names, and creating a separate row on the device won't change the fact that, contextual controls are already designed for most or all applications. 

zmx
zmx

Such things have no meanings, I think. You change the comp and you will be lost!

A reasonable set of keyboard shortcuts would be useful and you could use it anywhere.

Regards

   Zdenek

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