Friday, January 15, 2010

How the Apple iSlate could change the way we work

Some are saying its arrival is the beginning of the end for the old mouse and keyboard (insert sad violin music here.) Others are claiming it’ll flop (we all remember the Newton – at least most of us do.)

Yes, we’re talking about the apple tablet—now speculatively named iSlate. But, instead of making predictions about iSlate’s features, (there’s plenty of blogs and articles covering that aspect) we want to de-tech the tablet and talk cause and effect.

Let’s start here: what do we know?

The iSlate will be flat. Hold on, don’t roll your eyes yet. This may seem like a boring observation, but lets look at it a bit harder.

As of now, we work on our desktop or notebook computers by sitting in a chair and looking straight ahead at a screen. And everything around that screen? It’s been designed for optimal viewing, comfort and health. But before 1981, when the first Personal Computer was purchased, we were using typewriters. Yeah, remember those? And before that, it was paper. But something interesting happened in between paper and typewriters—the position of the page. Typewriters began what the PC finished—an upright page demanded a sitting, looking straight ahead body position. That transition began to define the design of products all around us. Ironically though, before paper, what did we use? Clay tablets. (The Summerians were transcribing cuneiform into these tablets before papyrus got its start.) Oh, what a cyclical web we weave.

So, even though it’s probable that the iSlate may have a dock that positions it similarly to a laptop or desktop computer, (old habits are hard to break,) the option to utilize the iSlate it in its native position may win out. And, if this is the case, imagine how this could affect everything around us. Imagine the world, re-invented to fit flat top technologies. Everything from chairs to desks to lighting to classrooms to entire office complexes could experience a rebirth of design. And because efficiency optimized design must also work together as seamlessly as possible with other products, flat top technology, if widely adopted, could have a sizeable domino effect on other industries. Imagine parks, restaurants, roadways, etc. all designed with flat top technology as the catalyst.

Every one is talking tech in regard to iSlate, but if we widen our view a little, we can see the parallel industries it can touch, the change that can be created by that friction, and, the best part of it all—the opportunities that can be found in that change.

What do you think the future of mobile computing would look like if we all had a device similar to the iSlate?

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