The Future - Mobile, Static or Implanted?
There has been an interesting discussion going on lately on the Improve Rev list, centered around whether desktop or mobile platforms are more relevant today, and which will be more relevant in the future. Will traditional desktop computers still dominate in 5 years time? 10 years? Will we all have handy mobile devices instead? Maybe a roll up sheet of plastic will be a computer? Will teenagers be walking down the street reading from a virtual screen suspended 6 inches from their faces? If so, I have serious concerns about future generations, the slow and the abstracted will be eliminated by passing traffic, its already difficult enough to text while walking...
The use of the word "traditional" in conjunction with desktop computers makes my head spin. Since when has a mere 10 years or so at the most constituted a tradition? But it does illustrate how very fast the whole computing concept has evolved. From something to the size of a room to something that fits in your hand has taken a mere decade or so. Where next? What is the "perfect size" for a computer? I would suggest that continuing the trend to smaller and smaller devices has to end somewhere. We will soon need magnifying glasses to read our screens, and typing on a "keyboard" a couple of inches square is just painful. Whilst I do personally have a laptop, I do not use it routinely in my daily work because of ergonomics. I can either have the keyboard at the right height or the screen at the right height but not both. When one spends as much of ones life as I do in front of a screen this is not just irritating, its a real health issue, which if ignored leads to nasty things like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Obviously, there are many many uses for which a mobile device is not just better than a desktop computer, but the only choice. The telephone engineer who recently installed my new line had a fascinating half laptop half phone device with carry handles like a briefcase, clearly built to withstand being dropped from the top of telephone poles. It looked like he was running some kind of proprietary software - I couldn't help thinking it was a perfect place for Rev to be providing custom built software.
For the time being at least, and until we have a major paradigm shift, I think the desktop is here to stay. Nothing beats it for heavy duty use. I'd love a tablet but I can't imagine doing a full days work on it. But tablets of all sorts are coming up fast and soon I would guess pretty much everyone who has a desktop machine will also own some kind of tablet for using "out and about". Doctors on a ward will be using them. Salesmen in the field. School children in developing countries. All these markets are going to want new software written to run on their new devices, and this is where we come in. Rev is poised to leap into this huge developing marketplace. Already you can write or prototype apps for Windows Mobile 6 and iOS and we are making great strides towards supporting the explosively growing Android systems. For all you canny Rev developers out there who already have mature apps on the desktop, Rev will be making the transition easy for you. Just take your existing app and port it to web, server or mobile platform of your choice. Bingo, you have a brand new market at your fingertips. If market constraints mean your end user is resistant to installing plugins or downloaded software, use the revServer engine and run exclusively in the browser. All from one code base.
What about that paradigm shift? Some fascinating research is already being done on using our skin to control devices like music systems and phones. Just tap on a certain area of your hand or arm and dial up your Auntie... maybe. Any time this last 10 years I've heard again and again that typing is about to become obsolete as an input method. It hasn't happened yet, but maybe it will. Perhaps we'll all get chips implanted in our brains and we'll really be able to control our computers with fuzzy logic and the power of thought. Perhaps with bio engineering, we will become the computer...
I seem to have drifted a long way from Rev. I think my point is that computers and computing are evolving, and will continue to do so for some time. During that period, its essential for our software to remain flexible, adaptable, and ready for anything. The desktop is going to remain important for some time, but mobile devices of all kinds are the growth market of today. Rev is already out there for desktop, server and mobile platforms. I'm sure that when we're all writing software to implant and give us x-ray vision or superhuman mathematical abilities, Rev will be in there somewhere, giving us the power to stay in control!