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Peter Cochrane's Blog: Boxy laptops, mobiles, cameras - be gone

I want gadgets more suited to the human form

Written in a coffee shop in the West End of London and transmitted to silicon.com via a wide-open 11Mbps wi-fi node.

For as long as I can remember technology has come in a recta-linear format - boxes if you will.

My laptop, mobile phone, camera et al have nicely rounded corners and edges but they are essentially still boxes. This is a form factor set by brutally rigid printed circuits, screens and batteries.

I don't have to tell you that the human form does not fit the physics of these boxes. My mobile phone and everything else I carry and wear is fundamentally uncomfortable - but perhaps for not much longer. Flexible screens, boards, batteries and enclosures are now with us.

So one item on my wish list for future personal technology is a phone that will mould to my wrist, chest, hip or butt. In fact, it should mould to any place I wish to wear or carry it.

For something to be truly wearable it has to resemble our clothing or jewellery, and not a condensed version of a World War II tank radio!

Are such innovations likely soon? Possibly! The first tentative attempts at design are emerging. But they tend to be nicely shaped and still rigid. That won't do.

Our technology needs to be plastic, malleable and a bit like play dough. We need to be able to bend and shape it to our individual needs and purposes.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is the question: what would such an innovation lead to?

I can only guess but it seems likely to bring about a 'mating of multiple devices' and the moulding of technology into our vehicle dashboard, travel luggage and clothing, for starters.

About Peter Cochrane

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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