Waiting for Apple to develop the iPileOfSeeds
February 26, 2008 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Chris Woebken is a designer, with some interesting "what if" technology ideas, including a nanotech computer interface and an ultra-thin electronic picture frame.
posted by CrunchyFrog (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Those were really interesting.

The I got sober again :(
posted by oblio_one at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2008

A lot of people are interested in e-paper type technologies, and I think having sensors on such a device to allow warping-based interfaces is a good idea. We're already getting some of that type of thing with the tilt and touch sensors on the iPod touch and the orientation detection on the Wii.

I have no idea what he's thinking with a nanotech computer interface like the one shown on that page though. No work seems to be getting done at all; it's a pile of moving gravel.
posted by demiurge at 7:00 PM on February 26, 2008

Well. I like Nobukazu Takemura (the music).

The fake technologies? These fail to capture my imagination!
posted by aubilenon at 7:07 PM on February 26, 2008

The "nanotech" interface really doesn't make any sense without him trying to show how the mechanics of the particles are supposed map onto what's happening in the computer. This is pretty central to the whole idea: the inter in interface.

Weird thing is, it doesn't even seem like it would have been that much work to mock up. He could have used a split-screen maybe, and synced things up in postproduction?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:13 PM on February 26, 2008

The gravel idea is imaginative. It's certainly out of the box in relation to the technology that ties us to the current gui/command line/2 dimensional interface for most computers.

However - WTF is taking the gravel in your pocket suppose to represent!? Data transfer? What if he ate the stuff? Would that represent a file dump?!
posted by phyrewerx at 7:24 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Weird thing is, it doesn't even seem like it would have been that much work to mock up. He could have used a split-screen maybe, and synced things up in postproduction?

Wouldn't that have required him to actually consider why this would be a useful way to work with a computer/data in the first place?
posted by odinsdream at 7:24 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

phyrewerx: "What if he ate the stuff? Would that represent a file dump?!"

Um... no, that would likely occur a short time after he ate it.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:37 PM on February 26, 2008

What if he ate the stuff?

This isn't AskMetafilter.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:01 PM on February 26, 2008

Futuristic, completely impractical technology ideas by people who will probably hand it off to someone else for implementation, for people who clearly have nothing specific in mind!

Seriously, the idea of taking files home by sweeping a pile of seeds in your pocket is ridiculous - "Well, boss, I ... swept some of the files into my laptop, but it turns out that the random 5% selected by the OS (because this interface lacks a way to specify anything) didn't have the quarterlies I needed to get done by Monday!"

These sorts of sloppy, "imaginative" interfaces could only be of use when you didn't need anything by name, any particular characters, or a given outcome. It's all probabilistic. I guess it would be useful if you had five thousand images and you only needed fifty of them that were "good enough." That'll be useful for a very small slice of people. Word processing? Useless. Spreadsheets? Impossible.

I guess I could use it for sorting through emails for a job I didn't much care about.
posted by adipocere at 8:49 PM on February 26, 2008

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really kind of like the seed idea. I imagined him working with something that looks like this, a liquid kinetic surface that can take on 3d shapes and be parts of your desk and work.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:14 PM on February 26, 2008

Wow. A pile of seeds. Apparently this is a "nanotech computer interface" as imagined by Meatwad of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:28 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

the "its just like a regular display but its flexible" thing has been around for a long time, and i still don't get it. i mean, it's cool to think about, but so what? why is a thin, flexible display any more useful than a thin, rigid display? who out there is clamoring for a screen that flaps around in the breeze?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:54 AM on February 27, 2008

I have notebooks full of this sort of "novel interface design". Much of it isn't new, just like the stuff in this post.

8 years ago I "invented" a flexible-display cuff-computer-phone type object like one of those fabric and metal "slap bracelets" - much like one of the new Nokia concepts shown recently - but old Sci-Fi book covers are chock full of this stuff. I probably ripped off the idea from the cover of some old John Brunner book.

One favorite idea is a flexible touchscreen e-paper notebook.

Each page is a small computer, display, and I/O with a little storage and wireless bandwidth. Individual "pages" are cheap, but low-powered, with limited (flexible) battery life.

Stack the pages in a "binder" and each computerized page would become a meshed, clustered computer, with a power bus for charging and powering the pages.

Pull out two sheets and you get a wireless screen and keyboard. Tile multiple sheets on a wall and get a larger display. Load data like maps, text or graphics into a single page to give to someone, just like paper. Except it can be reused, returned, or simply added back into another "binder" for reuse or storage.

Cool? Maybe, but not realistic, really.

There's a long history of companies doing stuff "just because they can" or just for the wow factor - and it's not always good design.

Jet-engine cars, TV sets with tubes in pods or stalks, Nintendo's "Virtual Boy", flat panel speakers, the iMac-on-a-stalk, the Macintosh "Cube", spinner rims, powerhogging color displays in every damn thing, including fridges and toasters, the overuse of bright blue LEDs...

...the junkyards of history are littered with mountains of this crap.
posted by loquacious at 1:00 AM on February 27, 2008

the overuse of bright blue LEDs

Man, am I glad that particular trend seems to be nearing its end. You couldn't even look at a good chunk of the electronic music equipment that came out in 2001-2003/4 without blinding yourself. Blue LEDs look neat, but use them sparingly, please.

That being said, I've got a half-built Atmel AVR-based ultramegaobnoxious LED clock that I'll finish someday. 96 ultra-bright blue LEDs, just for the sake of being ridiculous and having a clock you can read from across the street. It's mostly the power supply demands of the LEDs that's keeping me from finishing it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:10 AM on February 27, 2008

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