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Peter Cochrane's Blog: Autosync, at last

Now we just need it to meld with remote control…

Written while flying from London to Rome and dispatched on arrival at my hotel via a 3G HSDPA data service.

Some 20 years ago I was running a series of experiments involving multiple home and office fixed and mobile devices.

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In some instances I had five active CRT screens as my workspace, backed up by the most powerful computers available at the time.

At the other extreme I had mobile devices that were most primitive by today's standards - the size of a small briefcase.

The basic idea was to be able to roam the planet, communicating by all possible means, which at the time invariably meant the fixed and mobile telephone network using dial-up modems.

And in the worst case it was necessary to dial in to the UK from far-flung places such as Singapore. Can you imagine? The phone bills for a day or two were bigger than the hotel costs.

Apart from the cost of connectivity and the lack of bandwidth, the really big deal was synchronisation. It was nearly impossible to keep two mobile and three desktop devices in sync.

Not only was the software absent, so was the industry mindset. Only recently - some 20 years or so later - has that world seen the need and caught up. Some excellent software packages are now available for the automatic syncing of all our devices.

At the front of the pack, the best autosync function applications have now spread across email, address books, diaries, photos, music, movies, documents and more.

There are also embedded degrees of intelligence that take care of formatting for differing screen sizes, formats, memory size, computational power, OS and application sets.

Almost simultaneously the number of applications that allow the remote access to machines from other fixed and mobile terminals has also blossomed. So it is a matter of routine to be able to access files or control applications on a remote PC or server.

To make this world complete I just need the melding of both capabilities - remote control and autosync really would do it for me. Being able to assume all is well across all work and domestic machines, data and applications would be a boon.

But this time I think we can safely hold our breath - it won't be 20 years in coming.

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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