One of the biggest problems in mobile phone development are the limited resources that can be crammed into a small portable body. Various trade-offs to screen size, power consumption, CPU capacity, amount of available memory, etc; have to be accommodated in the name of portability.
At the same time, everyone around seems to be carrying some portable device. But when we want to share something with a friend, or do some things together on some smartphone, all other devices around stay idle.
What if there was a possibility to pool all the resources, including CPU’s, memory, displays, storage, etc; of all portable devices around us to accomplish certain tasks?
Well, Microsoft is exploring possibilities along these lines in it’s patent application called “Mobile device collaboration”.
Microsoft wants the phone hardware and software with built-in “proximity detection”, “synchronizer ” and “resource coordinator” modules. When such phones are brought close together, they are combined into a single computing module and act as a single device sharing all the resources.
The main attention in the patent app is focused on video sharing among multiple devices, including one case where 21 cell phone display screen is combined. But that is only one potential use of such system.
The scenarios explored by Microsoft include:
Video Display Aggregation- creating a single display from several phones
CPU/Memory Aggregation to perform tasks that are otherwise not possible or when the processing power of a single device is not enough for the task. E.g. HD video decoding, gaming apps, etc;
Storage Aggregation for external storage, remote backup and file sharing
Battery Aggregation – when connected via wired interface, several phones can share battery power. E.g for call forwarding when one phone runs out of power
Radio/Antenna Aggregation to increase communication bandwidth
Multiple microphone aggregation to perform stereo recording, or to support other microphone-array enabled applications such as determining the speaker’s position, etc.
Speaker aggregation to create stereo audio playback, or provide “orchestra” and other surround-sound effects if more than two mobile devices are available.
Camera aggregation to perform stereo video capturing or super-resolution recordings
Keypad aggregation to provide better input means
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