Augmented reality and the problem of obsolescing the laptop computer


Whatever laptop computer you’re using today, it likely isn’t very different than what you carried around 20 years ago. Sure, it’s lighter, more powerful and undoubtedly looks better and has a few new features – like working biometrics – but it’s still basically a clamshell laptop computer.

Processors have gotten smaller, batteries more capable, and we did try to replace the laptop – first with an iPad and then with a Phone. Neither effort took, though Apple is signaling they want to take another stab at turning the iPad into a laptop.

There are two things that gate our ability to dramatically change the device we carry around to do real work on: the display and the keyboard. These two things aren’t only hard to change, they define the size of the product we carry. The display is the more critical path because while we could make smaller keyboards or use foldable external keyboards, we don’t want to shrink the display. In fact, we want to make it bigger.

This is where AR comes in. If we could put the display closer to our face and attach it to our head, we could virtually make it as large as we want (only limited by the quality of the micro-display we are using)…and then we could work on rethinking the keyboard. So why aren’t there a bunch of people using Magic Leap or some other enterprise-class AR device instead of a laptop computer?

There are three things preventing this move: existing habit, the lack of a trailblazer and the lack of an AR solution that does occlusion well.

Habit

We really don’t like change. If you look at the keyboard layout we currently use it was optimized for early typewriters. Then, the concern was that if you hit two keys close together at around the same time it would jam…but we’re still using the same design. This showcases how resistant we are to change what we’ve grown comfortable with.



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