The power of modern smartphones in many ways equals and even surpasses the power of a desktop PC of just few years ago. You know, things like CPUs faster then 800 Mhz, hundreds of megabytes of RAM, tens of gygabytes of storage, dedicated graphics accelerators, etc;.
So why not just ditch the old laptop and buy a new smartphone for all your computing and communication needs? Well, you can’t.
The small form factor of the device, including miniscule screen, keyboard and arcane input methods are just not up to the task for the most basic personal computing needs.
But Microsoft seems to have found a way to actually replace your PC with a smartphone without any of the problems mentioned above.
The answer comes in a form of a docking cradle for a mobile phone that connects to your LAN, external HDD, keyboard, mouse, display and any other peripheral you like. It’s described in a patent application “Smart interface system for mobile communication devices”.
The smart interface system is a bit smarter then your average phone cradle. It contains it’s own CPU, memory and embedded OS that handles the communication between the phone and peripheral devices.
Embedded OS acts as an intermediary – storing, updating and using drivers for peripherals and simulating a computer for them. It intercepts signals coming from the docked handset and translates them into commands and data that the active peripheral can understand, and does the same for the signals coming from the peripheral to the phone.
So if video stream is coming from the handset, it gets intercepted by the cradle OS, transcoded there and then gets sent to the connected overhead projector to be displayed. When keyboard or mouse input is detected, it gets translated into a command sequence that docked phone can understand and is sent there to be executed.
The kind of peripherals that can be connected to such “smart system” is virtually unlimited and can include:
… televisions (TVs), monitors, displays (e.g., LCD, LED, etc.), projectors, mice, keyboards, gesture input systems, touchpads, touch screen displays, and other human interface devices (HIDs). The peripheral devices 108 can also include printers, cameras, audio and audio processing systems (e.g., speakers, electronic music systems, etc.), image/video and image/video processing systems (e.g., video cameras, digital cameras, scanners, etc.), and storage systems (e.g., USB (universal serial bus) drives, IEEE 1394 drives, external drives, flash drives, etc.), for example. The networks 110 include the IEEE 802 family of wire and wireless networks. The other systems 112 can include set-top-boxes (e.g., cable TV boxes), high-definition systems, home theater systems, security systems, sensor systems, sensor systems (e.g., temperature, humidity, pressure, time, etc.)
Seems like a simple and pretty elegant concept. And it moves a dream of a single all purpose computing and communications device a step closer to reality. Actually, for many of us not interested in latest games and high def video editing, the needed processing capacity is already there.
Just ask yourself – are the most of the things you do today on your PC that different from the things you did on your 400 MHz Pentium II laptop with 128 MB of RAM and 20GB HDD 10 years ago? And every second smartphone today already carries more computing power then this.
The things most of us do on a PC – Net access, text and spreadsheet editing, image viewing and limited editing, standard video playback – worked pretty well on any Pentium II machine. It seems that the only missing link here is in the quality software to make the features described in MS patent app work.
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