Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps puts aside the tablet talk to discuss five computing form factors she sees possibly gaining momentum in the future.
(NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad selling close to 40 million units since its April 2010
launch, ostensibly birthing the tablet form factor, you can forgive high-tech
punditry for reveling in tablet talk and prognostication.
some analysts are given to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is, a
common refrain in the torrid venture capital sector.
talk is hardly cooling, Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps
looking ahead to some consumer electronics computing form factors she expects
to rear their heads at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show next month. For context,
these devices and gadgets are early nodes on the Internet of Things-the notion
that all devices rely on Web connections to process and relay information.
envisions wearable devices, or those worn on or near the body as fresh form
factor candidates. She cited the Lark sleep tracker
which sync with Apple's iOS devices for health and fitness scenarios. On
the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS side of the camp is a wristwatch from WIMM
Labs, which relays information on news, social networking, health and personal
At the Cloudforce
event last month, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff showed off
a biometric bracelet that could better connect the wearer with his or her
device. In Benioff's case, the bracelet was mated with a Toyota
"friend" car to help identify the wearer as the owner of the car.
pointed to embedded devices, or gadgets that include computing processors and
sensors, such as refrigerators, coffee machines and other Web-enabled devices:
Users could theoretically use their smartphone or tablet to lower the
temperature of their fridge from afar, or even turn their coffee machine on at
the touch or tap of a button.
last August, Benioff showed off Coke machines that were aware of their
customers' presence and offered them deals through the consumers' iPhones. That
was a classic example of a machine with an embedded system.
Epps also sees
"surfaces," or larger interactive displays that rely on multi-touch,
voice and gesture input, facial recognition, near-field communication (NFC)
signals and any other manner of wireless technologies and sensors.
She cited the
case of Tesco Homeplus, the No. 2 grocery retailer in South Korea, which
built "virtual malls" in subway stations where commuters
order groceries for home delivery with their cell phones by taking pictures of
QR codes on a "photorealistic" surface.
kind of technology that makes the touch-screen and biometric advertising
technologies showcased in Stephen Spielberg's Minority Report
movie from 2002 seem less and less like science
won't be fixed. Epps envisions flexible displays, or computing screens that can
be rolled, folded or flexed. These displays can come in the form of electronic
readers or larger surface displays, such as furniture or wallpaper.
expects mini-projectors, which project a larger image onto another surface or
into 3D space. Epps said Apple has filed a patent
interactive projectors into its iPhones, iPads and Macs. Such technology could
be used for collaborative presentations in the enterprise, or as impromptu
photo slide shows for consumers.
successful products will work with other products-for example, wearables that
talk to smartphones and TVs; surfaces that are activated by the presence of your
smartphone," Epps said. "We're living in a multi-device, multi-connection
world, and the best experiences will be those that work across devices and
If there are
themes to Epps' findings, they are mobility and a couple of common platforms.
For the near future, iOS and Android are the mobile analogy to Apple's Mac and
Microsoft's Windows platforms on the desktop.
up for this era of the Internet of
Things. In the meantime, we look forward to such technologies at CES in a month.