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Will the Smartphone Kill the Laptop?

Tue, 01/03/2012 - 5:30am
Eric Broockman, Alereon (www.alereon.com)

Eric BroockmanOK, so maybe my headline is a bit of hyperbole – but then again perhaps not as much as you may think. Five years ago, in December 2006, I wrote a blog outlining how new high performance mobile CPUs being announced by Qualcomm together with future high resolution screens coming to smartphones, that for many users and for many applications a smartphone could be a substitute for a laptop – with the exception of the keyboard and the screen size. I went on to assert that someday UWB’s ability to reliably stream video and data could enable an era where you walked in to your office and your smartphone would auto-connect to a wireless monitor. You’d sit down to your trusty keyboard, and you would browse the web, write your emails, work on a PowerPoint presentation, etc. – all without ever turning on your laptop or your PC. Instead, you’d be using the smarts of your high performance phone and the smartphone’s cellular and Wi-Fi to connect to the internet or the corporate network. This could be a great model for many people who don’t need to crunch monster spreadsheets on their laptops.

I am happy to say that some five years later Alereon will be demonstrating an early yet highly functional version of this capability in a few weeks at CES in January using a currently popular Android smartphone and Alereon’s UWB streaming wireless technology. We have developed a kit that enables a user to mirror their applications on their wireless monitor and also use the keyboard and mouse, and even have a USB hard drive attached to the base of the wireless monitor for extra storage from the phone. Because Alereon’s solution uses UWB, the monitor faithfully displays the contents up on the monitor without artifacts and glitches caused by heavy Wi-Fi interference. The monitor behaves like it is connected to the phone by a cable; albeit a very magical and invisible cable. Like any early product it isn’t perfect yet, and more importantly, it isn’t yet a shipping product – but it could be. You can mirror your screen and do your type your email or text messages, you can scroll from screen to screen, you can click on application icons, you can view photos, browse the web, play angry birds up on the big monitor if you wish – all while using a real keyboard and mouse. Then simply get up and walk away from your wireless monitor.  For the enterprise user, you can take an extra step and add the capability that Motorola Mobility/Google demonstrated last year with their Atrix – but you’d do everything wirelessly and with a much nicer monitor. The Atrix approach adds a Citrix app that connects you into the corporate network applications. Very cool. Now you really don’t need a laptop – even in the enterprise.

Naturally this same capability can also be adapted to the new Windows Mobile Mango platform, and can also support Android or Windows 8 tablets as well. We’d also love an invite from the folks on Infinite Loop in Cupertino…

Check back later in 2012. Perhaps our prototype will have shipped as a real product. Time will tell. In the mean time I just gotta have one.

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