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Five Ideas That Will Reinvent Computing

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  • by kernel_pat (964314) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:25AM (#19686907) Journal
    "IMAX-quality movies at home with new projectors, a mid-air mouse that requires no flat surface, a home quantum computer, a router-based peer-to-peer system, and a man-made brain all made the list."

    Surely you just need a bloke with a pen and a piece of paper to make a list.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pacalis (970205)
      Idea #6 is: a better list

      I'd write it but I'm too busy building 22m by 16m screen in my basement.

    • Re:Writing a list (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:46AM (#19688245) Homepage
      This is Why PC Magazine isn't for people who know about computers.

      A: The multiple projector thing is neat, but who is going to buy 12 projecters to have a higher resolution image? The image quality that can be gotten from a single projector basically maxes out the display quality of the average white wall.

      B: Mid-air mice have been around for years as presentation tools and novelties. My company has one that you can use on a tabletop or in the air, as you see fit. The main failing is the nature of the device itself: nobody wants to hold their mouse up in the air for any length of time. It's just not comfortable.

      C: Quantum computing is so far away as to be a joke. We don't even have what could be described as Quantum Calculating. When Bell Labs says things are 20 years out, you know it's not going to be ready for a long, long time.

      D: Router P2P is neat, but could it be described as revolutionary? As described here, it's basically larger-scale caching, with untrusted sources. Even if it worked, it just speeds up the network a few percent.

      E: A man made brain? That's a revolutionary idea! With our deep understanding of the human psyche and physiological complexities, we could whip this problem in no more than 20 years. Why haven't we been working on this since the 60's?
      • Re:Writing a list (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sepodati (746220) on Friday June 29, 2007 @10:14AM (#19688565) Homepage

        A: The multiple projector thing is neat, but who is going to buy 12 projecters to have a higher resolution image? The image quality that can be gotten from a single projector basically maxes out the display quality of the average white wall.

        Someone with $12,000 to waste. There are plenty, I'm sure. So long as this is idiot-proof and projector prices drop, I can see this one really taking off. I've seen many a screen where the projected image is made too large and comes out all pixilated. They'd be better suited by four smaller resolution projectors melded into a single screen of 2x2 images. We'll see.

        B: Mid-air mice have been around for years as presentation tools and novelties. My company has one that you can use on a tabletop or in the air, as you see fit. The main failing is the nature of the device itself: nobody wants to hold their mouse up in the air for any length of time. It's just not comfortable.

        I think this is a little different, though. It's not something you hold up and wave your hand around with. Imagine holding one of those stretchy, squishy balls in your hand. You basically drag that fabric with your thumb over the optical sensor. It'd almost be like holding a little trackball or trackpoint, I guess. I think this would be more comfortable, though. Revolutionary? No really, imo... but a neat idea nontheless.

        ---John Holmes...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "E: A man made brain? That's a revolutionary idea! With our deep understanding of the human psyche and physiological complexities, we could whip this problem in no more than 20 years. Why haven't we been working on this since the 60's?"

        I think the idea was that they're working on a new processing paradigm (can't believe I actually used that word) to make computers friendlier to humans. I think the idea is we'll be able to tell computers what we want instead of giving them a literal list of instructions for
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <.elmuerte. .at. .drunksnipers.com.> on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:26AM (#19686915) Homepage
    http://www.pcmag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=20978 3,00.asp?hidPrint=true [pcmag.com]

    Idea #6 would be: online articles without numerous page impressions.
  • My Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:30AM (#19686925)
    A hand-carried fusion reactor, unless you want to take down the grid with those ideas...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jfekendall (1121479)
      First, build a fusion reactor that works. Then get Steve Jobs to put it in iPod form-factor. You'll have to send it in for refueling about every 18 months. lol
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:18AM (#19687975) Journal

      A hand-carried fusion reactor, unless you want to take down the grid with those ideas...

      Well, add on that list: The closed time loop computer. By sending information to the past, it allows to infinitely speed up software: The result of one step is just sent to the past for preparation of the next step. Since also the final result gets sent into the past, you get your result immediatly. Indeed, you can get your result before you even asked the question!
  • Article Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by ma11achy (150206) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:36AM (#19686949)
    I took the liberty of copying and pasting the meat of the article here. WAY too many ads and click-thru's for my liking.

    IMAX at Home
    =============
    You thought LAN parties were fun? Get ready for the projector party. At HP Labs, Nelson Chang and Niranjan Damera-Venkata have spent the past few years developing a technology that reinvents the notion of a home theater. With Pluribus, you can build a cineplex-quality image using a handful of ordinary, $1,000 PC projectors--in less time than it takes to pop the popcorn.

    The Midair Mouse
    ================
    Your brand-new wireless mouse? That solves only half the problem. Sure, you're untethered, free to drive your PC from afar. But you still need a flat surface. You may be camped out on the couch or curled up in bed, but you're never more than half an arm's length from an end table or a lap desk.

    Soap goes one step further: It works in midair. With this new-age pointing device, now under development at Microsoft Research, you can navigate your PC using nothing but a bare hand. You can lose the end table and the lap desk. You can even lose the couch and the bed, driving your machine while walking across the room. It's a bit like the Wii remote--only more accurate and far easier to use.

    Extreme Peer-to-Peer
    ====================
    In 1543, Nicolas Copernicus forever changed the way we view the cosmos. He put the Sun at the center of things--not the Earth. Today, at the famed Palo Alto Research Center, Van Jacobson hopes to lead a similar revolution, one that forever changes the way we view PC networking. He aims to put the data at the center of things--not the server.

    With a project called Content-Centric Networking, or CCN, Jacobson and his team of PARC networking gurus are turning this model on its head. They're building a networking system that revolves around the data itself, a system in which a router can actually identify that Bode Miller video and act accordingly. Under the CCN model, you don't tell the network that you're interested in connecting to a server. You tell it that you want a particular piece of data. You broadcast a request to all the machines on the network, and if one of them has what you're looking for, it responds.

    The Man-Made Brain
    ==================
    It could be the most ambitious computer science project of all time. At IBM's Almaden Research Center, just south of South Francisco, Dharmendra Modha and his team are chasing the holy grail of artificial intelligence. They aren't looking for ways of mimicking the human brain, they're looking to build one--neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse.

    "We're trying to take the entire range of qualitative neuroscientific data and integrate it into a single unified computing platform," says Modha. "The idea is to re-create the 'wetware' brain using hardware and software."

    Their first goal is to build a "massively parallel cortical simulator" that re-creates the brain of a mouse, an organ 3,500 times less complex than a human brain (if you count each individual neuron and synapse). But even this is an undertaking of epic proportions. A mouse brain houses over 16 million neurons, with more than 128 billion synapses running between them. Even a partial simulation stretches the boundaries of modern hardware. No, we don't mean desktop hardware. We're talkin' supercomputers.

    So far, the team has been able to fashion a kind of digital mouse brain that needs about 6 seconds to simulate 1 second of real thinking time.
    • Re:Article Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:07AM (#19687245) Homepage Journal

      You may be camped out on the couch or curled up in bed, but you're never more than half an arm's length from an end table or a lap desk.

      If you need to access your computer and can't bear to get your butt off the couch, you've got bigger problems than not having a flat surface handy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by supermank17 (923993)
        Eh, lots of products exist to make life more convenient; I have no problem with another one. And there are times when using a laptop that this could be useful, especially if you're traveling or something and theres no desk handy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mdwh2 (535323)
        Yes, heaven forbid we might want to make use of these new fangled devices known as laptops. When I take my laptop anywhere, I always bring my desk with me just in case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tdvaughan (582870)
      Extreme peer to peer
      So....like multicast?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by skribe (26534)
      I'm surprised there's no mention of haptics. Secondlife: now with real gyrating motion.
    • Good job, that man.
    • by ukemike (956477)
      IMAX at Home
      =============

      right, like you have a wall big enough for this to matter!?!?! Most people don't have enough wall space to use 1 projector!

      The Midair Mouse
      ================

      now I can look forward to people drinking coffee, putting on makeup, talking on the cellphone, AND surfing the net with their midair mouse while tailgating me on the way to work. WooHoo!



      Where's the bit where computing will be reinvented? I missed that. All I saw were some gadgets of questionable coolness.
  • Mid-air mouse... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rilister (316428) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:36AM (#19686953)
    ... I can debunk this one for you right away.

    Take your mouse. Hold it the air for five minutes. For extra effect, wave it about. Now imagine doing this eight hours a day. And being accurate.

    Tired arm much? Using a 2D mouse is about accuracy and long-term usage. OK, the mouse isn't perfect, but hanging it in space significantly deteriorates both these properties.

    The Wii controller is a whole different ball of wax - it's for using for a couple of hours at most, and you don't try clicking on unfolding menus with it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Atario (673917)
      Also, hasn't this existed for years now?
    • Re:Mid-air mouse... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Soulshift (1044432) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:18AM (#19687103)

      Do you even know how the Soap pointing device works? Hint: you don't wave it around in mid air. It's essentially the guts of an optical mouse put into a smooth, clear container and stuck into a sock. The optical sensor tracks the grain of the enclosing sock, and you manipulate it by squeezing the sock gently, causing the "mouse" inside to rotate - much as if you were squeezing a bar of soap (hence the name)

      Unlike a lot of stuff coming out of Microsoft, I regard this little invention to be actually rather creative and worthwhile. If anything, it will definitely be a boon to people who need to use a pointing device during presentations (much better than the trackball solution we have today)

      • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:27AM (#19687599)

        Do you even know how the Soap pointing device works? Hint: you don't wave it around in mid air. It's essentially the guts of an optical mouse put into a smooth, clear container and stuck into a sock. The optical sensor tracks the grain of the enclosing sock, and you manipulate it by squeezing the sock gently, causing the "mouse" inside to rotate - much as if you were squeezing a bar of soap (hence the name)
        So, once you're done -er, "rotating your 'mouse,'" do you wash the sock out or just throw it in the dirty pile?
      • I went to the soap homepage (http://www.patrickbaudisch.com/projects/soap/ind e x.html) and watched the demo. DOA. The gyrations that guys hand has to make to control the mouse, and the speed of the cursor (I know, you can set that, but there's a limit to maintain precision) makes the propsect of using something like that for an extended period of time seem like a CIA torture technique. I use a "regular" optical moust with a wrist pad that has a wrist rest. It requires very little effort, and I can both zip
        • You bring up a fantastic point with the speed. Let's take it one step further.

          This thing is pretty cool as far as making precise, small, or fine-grained motions. What if you combined it with a Wiimote, and used the Wiimote for fast motions?

          It would be difficult, but an innovative combination of pointing approaches would allow one to take advantage of each approaches strengths.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Overzeetop (214511)
            Actually, precision is one of the things I would be concerned about. Think about it - with a desk-bound mouse you can make relatively precise movements in two axes, as the third is constrained and the surface provides support for the device. With a hand held object, you must support it with the same fingers used to manipulate the device. Very few people have perfectly steady hands, which means decreasing the sensitivity to avoid shake - further aggravating the speed issue. Second, most of my mouse operatio
        • The gyrations that guys hand has to make to control the mouse, and the speed of the cursor (I know, you can set that, but there's a limit to maintain precision) makes the propsect of using something like that for an extended period of time seem like a CIA torture technique.

          Watch it from 4:40 - 4:20 (the timer counts down). You don't have to rotate and fondle the thing all the time. You can hold it however's comfortable and just move your thumb on the surface, dragging the fabric along under your thumb. S

      • OK, I'm willing to assume, for the sake of argument, that the mid-air mouse is better than the mouse I'm using now. Even so, will this really re-invent computing in any significant way? Does it really belong in the same category as quantum computing or a data-centric network? I don't think so. A better mouse is nice, but it doesn't precipitate any kind of paradigm shift that I can see. If I'm wrong about this, feel free to explain.

        True speech input with language understanding might bring about a majo

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by phiwum (319633)
          No, the mouse won't re-invent computing, but the home imax projector? Man, that will change everything! University curricula will have to be rewritten from scratch!
    • Re:Mid-air mouse... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mlush (620447) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:30AM (#19687143)
      You dont even need to do the experement, there is a name for it since the 1980s From the Jargon files gorilla arm: n. The side-effect that destroyed touch-screens as a mainstream input technology despite a promising start in the early 1980s. It seems the designers of all those spiffy touch-menu systems failed to notice that humans aren't designed to hold their arms in front of their faces making small motions. After more than a very few selections, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and oversized -- the operator looks like a gorilla while using the touch screen and feels like one afterwards. This is now considered a classic cautionary tale to human-factors designers; "Remember the gorilla arm!" is shorthand for "How is this going to fly in real use?".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DeadCatX2 (950953)
        While I find your post informative (up until now I had never heard of "gorilla arm"), I suggest reading this other informative sibling post.

        Mid-air mouse is somewhat of a misnomer...you don't have to hold it in mid air. In fact, it does not require arm motion of any sort.

        http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=243159&cid= 19687103 [slashdot.org]

        Also, I think touch screens kind of suck because you're finger is blocking the view of your hand. >.<
    • by WalterGR (106787) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:38AM (#19687165) Homepage

      Take your mouse. Hold it the air for five minutes. For extra effect, wave it about. Now imagine doing this eight hours a day.

      Reminds me of this hilarious comic [ok-cancel.com] from OK/Cancel.

      (Two guys exit a showing of the movie Minority Report.)

      Guy: Mate, that film was brilliant! I reckon that interface'll be the interface of the future!

      (Fast forward to 2099...)

      Job interviewer, speaking to interviewee: I'm sorry ma'am. Your cognitive scores are incredible but you simply don't have the upper body strength to do this 8 hours a day.

      If you're into usability and design, OK/Cancel is a great web comic to check out.

    • by deniable (76198)
      The cordless gyro mice are good for presentations. You can present without having to lean on a desk. Presentations should be short and mouse use is limited. The 20m range didn't hurt either.

      The only problem we had was people walking off with the thing or leaving it in obscure places.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dhasenan (758719)
      Or you could remount a standard trackball mouse into a pistol grip: thumb moves the ball, and you have four buttons on the grip. You can rest your hand however you want, and you've got plenty of accuracy.

      I've seen mouses like that. And I've heard good things about trackballs for gaming, though that was compared to joysticks, so I'm not sure how they stack up against regular mouses.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Why not just have a trackball? Then you can just rest it on your leg or whatever, you don't need a flat surface, and you don't need any fancy new stuff. I use a trackball all the time, it's really great. I got it because I don't have a lot of desk space, and was tired of having to devote so much space to a mouse.
    • by Durinthal (791855)
      Get a trackball. No more flat surface required! You can even wave it about if you want, but it won't do much. I actually have used one while holding it in the air, though.

      (I still want an updated version of the Marble Mouse [amazon.com], Logitech.)
  • by Snad (719864) <mspace@bigfoo[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:39AM (#19686961)

    FTFA :

    A gaming PC with dueling graphics cards can line up 12 projectors in as little as 5 minutes

    What if I don't want my graphics cards fighting it out to see who survives? Will it take only 2 minutes if they join forces instead of trying to kill each other?

  • by pzs (857406) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:41AM (#19686975)

    Most of these ideas look more like cool gadgets or specific applications to me.

    Computing is everywhere now. I think a "re-invention" of it should probably be something that applies to the huge numbers of people who use computing as part of their everyday lives.

    I was much more interested in these [bbc.co.uk] comments, which involve trying to fundamentally change the way in which we use our technology.

    Peter

  • by supersnail (106701) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:43AM (#19686981)
    I cant help being reminded of those wonderful 1950s popular mechanics articles which predicted we would all be flying home in our flying cars to watch our 3D Tv while eating a robot cooked meal.

    The present is never the future you thought it would be.

    Everybody predicted talking computers able to predict the future, but nobody predicted YouTube or predictive texting.
    • I don't want to pull up the link from work, but given that you both referenced The Flying Car and YouTube, you should search YouTube for Kevin Smith's short "The Flying Car".

      It really is great.
    • We may not have a robot but a hell of a lot of people eat ready meals nowadays, and they might as well have been made by a robot.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:44AM (#19686987)
    That's what it comes down to. We already have computers that calculate faster than anything we combined have. They just cost more than we combined have, too. These ideas all sound nice and pretty, but generally what it comes down to is cost. 12k for a home entertainment? Who can afford that? Who'd WANT to afford that? Especially with probably no movies to see on it in the forseeable future, since studios won't allow ... I digress.

    Any prediction past 5 years in the future of IT is a pipe dream. Accept that. Think back, say, 10 years. You know, when the Internet was the next hot thing and broadband was the dream. When we sucked our data through 56k modems. When the first FTP servers sharing music appeared. When Napster came to fame. What was the prediction? That Napster is so hot it smokes and that it will soar. That on the internet we'll all make a ton of money with ads on our pages. That in 10 years (i.e. today) the corner store is gone and we'll do all our business on the net. We'll all be having fiber to our homes and watch our movies online, hell, all our data will be online, since loading it from the HD is just as fast as accessing it on the 'net.

    Well, some of it came, but compared to the explosions predicted it was at best a greasefire. Yes, you can shop on the net, and Amazon surely dealt a serious blow to book stores, but otherwise, the economy didn't suddenly go full force online. Music sharing is a topic for lawyers rather than technicians, and Napster kinda-sorta folded (yeah, it still exists, somewhere, somehow, but nobody cares anymore). Fiber is a dream for most people, and while the net speed went up, it's a far cry from what was predicted. Services that store data online are currently starting to get started, but they're far from being a HD replacement, at best, they're offsite backups (and even as such they suck, due to space limitations).

    Technical issues actually went to the background, replaced by legal problems and privacy concerns. Nobody predicted that, IIRC.

    So doing a prediction up to 2020 is kinda pipe dreaming. You have no idea what obstacles will come in our way, you can't even imagine what kind of problem we will have to deal in 2015 already. For all I know, it could happen that Google gets bought out by some megalomanic and insanely rich guy who then starts to milk it for private data. Can it happen? For sure. Will it happen? Who knows.

    All I know is that predicting the IT future is a business best left to fortune tellers. At least they don't have to fear for their credibility when their predictions are so way off that it's not even funny anymore.
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:58AM (#19687207) Homepage

      Most of the middle-class in any western country *can* affort to spend $12K for any damn thing they please. If it's worth it is another matter entirely. For 99% of the population that's gonna be a no.

      Tech tends to fall like a lead-stone in price over time though, can you remember when a simple DVD-player was $3000 ? It's not that many years ago. You know, one of those sucky ones with no network, no divX, no mp3, no jpg, no video-cd compatibility and 10-second lag for layer-changing....

      We used to have a $3000 0.8Mpix digital camera at work. Concluding that digital cameras will never appeal to the mass-market based on that would've been the wrong conclusion though....

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by butlerdi (705651)
      For me the exception in this list is the Xerox PARC work on Content-Centric Networking. I have been following this for some time and feel that it is good research. Xerox has always been at the edge and many people never realise the fruits of their research as the projects are often spun off as separate entities. This seems to incorporate many of the ideas behind Cougaar, Jini and Jxta but using the discovery process in a different way.

      Good overview http://www.parc.com/research/projects/networking/c onten [parc.com]
      • by AndersOSU (873247)
        The way I see content-centric networking working.

        Me: I'm looking for Tool: 10,000 days.
        Some guy: Here you go.
        RIAA: I'm looking for Tool: 10,000 days.
        RIAA: Upload: Subpoena
    • Technical issues actually went to the background, replaced by legal problems and privacy concerns. Nobody predicted that, IIRC.


      Actually, Project Xanadu predicted it (and at least partially designed a solution to it) long before the WWW. Stallman also did a pretty good job of predicting such issues, and wrote a license which actually made sense in the digital age.
    • And whatever you do, don't try to predict past January 19th 2038...
  • by ceeam (39911) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:55AM (#19687021)
    ... for retarded definition of "computing".
  • by tgv (254536) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:55AM (#19687023) Journal
    I guess by "man-made" they mean artificial and that it will REVOLUTIONIZE(tm) computing since these artificial brains are going to be built in to every PC. Where did I hear that before? I think at the time they grossly overstated the capacity of computers such as the original IBM PC. So perhaps Moore's law applies to hardware, it surely doesn't apply to exaggeration.

    Anyway, who needs an electronic brain? Now I can at least yell "idiot" to MS Word when it joins sections or splits pages without it getting offended. Can you imagine Clippy looking angry and saying in this cute cartoon like blob "Now I'm not going to erase your document, you asked for it".
  • by DrXym (126579) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:58AM (#19687031)
    Gyroscopic mice have been around for years (pioneering the same tech you now see in the Wii remote and PS3 SIXAXIS). You really wouldn't want to use one unless you're doing a presentation or similar since you'll just hurt your hand and wrist waving the thing around in mid-air.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mlk (18543)
      You don't wave the MS mouse. It does not have motion sensors in it, instead it is more like a tracker ball without a base.
  • multicast? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:16AM (#19687095)
    The "router-based peer-to-peer system" isn't all that revolutionary: the load-spreading system they describe is similar in many ways to a system of caching web proxies (good) mixed with Steam (evil). The article also describes a content-centric model of accessing data as opposed to a server-centric model, and that's kind of cool, but I don't have a whole lot of faith in that sort of thing right now.

    What I THOUGHT they were talking about when I read "router-based peer-to-peer system" was ISPs and backbone services finally implementing multicast. Give any p2p software author a network where multicast actually works and you'll definitely see a revolution.
    • I hope the one line summary was inaccurate though.

      You broadcast a request to all the machines on the network.

      Ew... sounds like early versions of gnutella.

  • Mid air mouse. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DavidpFitz (136265) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:20AM (#19687109) Homepage Journal
    FTA...

    Soap goes one step further: It works in midair. With this new-age pointing device, now under development at Microsoft Research, you can navigate your PC using nothing but a bare hand. You can lose the end table and the lap desk. You can even lose the couch and the bed, driving your machine while walking across the room. It's a bit like the Wii remote--only more accurate and far easier to use.

    Quick... someone send a memo to Microsoft to let them know someone did this years ago. Nip over to your local computer shop and pick up a Gyration Ultra GT [extremetech.com]. Only problem is that your arms feel knackered after about 5 minutes of use. Pointless.

    D.
    • by prefect42 (141309)
      Certainly the problem that the gyration mouse has, and I say this as someone who has used one, is that they're hideous for accurate movement, and they're tiring to use.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DarkIye (875062)
      I'll just quote what SoulShift said to some other idiot up there about 25 minutes ago:

      Do you even know how the Soap pointing device works? Hint: you don't wave it around in mid air. It's essentially the guts of an optical mouse put into a smooth, clear container and stuck into a sock. The optical sensor tracks the grain of the enclosing sock, and you manipulate it by squeezing the sock gently, causing the "mouse" inside to rotate - much as if you were squeezing a bar of soap (hence the name)

  • by ardor (673957) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:20AM (#19687113)
    Most of these ideas are just gimmicks. One HUGE milestone only gets a footnote: non-volatile RAM.

    Look at today's PC. Where is the bottleneck in 95% of all cases? The hard drive.

    So, what could be the next killer feature? Non-volatile RAM (PRAM, FRAM, MRAM..). The immediate advantage is speed of course. But there is something much bigger.

    Most of the time, loading a file is no longer necessary! Much of the boot time of today's OSes comes from loading stuff into RAM. This can be omitted with P/F/MRAM, reducing booting to device initialization. Also, suspend-to-disk comes for free.

    Every single OS is based on the fact that there is a slow, but persistent memory (hard drive) and a fast, volatile one (RAM). They'd need a complete overhaul to fully exploit the new paradigm. Hell, almost all programs too. "Loading file to memory" is not necessary anymore, because the file already IS in memory! Thus, some sort of direct access is needed (unless the file is fragmented).
    • by Tx (96709) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:31AM (#19687327) Journal
      Every single OS is based on the fact that there is a slow, but persistent memory (hard drive) and a fast, volatile one (RAM). They'd need a complete overhaul to fully exploit the new paradigm.

      Not true. Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 and earlier were designed to be used with battery-backed DRAM as the primary/sole mass storage, probably true for lots of other embedded systems too. WM2003 therefore wouldn't need any changes at all to take advantage of these technologies, and it probably would take much to transfer any relevant features to desktop windows either.
      • by profplump (309017)
        For one thing, just because it runs that way doesn't mean it was re-designed to take advantage of that fact. Any current OS *could* run on a system composed entirely of fast, solid-state memory. But to take advantage of that you'd have to make changes to do things like in-place execution and a new execution-space memory management scheme.

        Even if Windows Mobile was designed with that in mind, it doesn't support things like huge address spaces or swap (not that you'd use swap directly, but you still need a sc
    • In which way does this reinvent computing? From a users' perspective, the only change is that the computer is a bit faster. It certainly changes a bit of the operating systems code, special file systems etc, but thats not a revolution.
    • You do realize that this was how computers originally worked, don't you?

      Early computers used non-volatile magnetic memory[1] in the place of RAM, which was really great in some cases. The memory was persistent, so if you lost power, the machine could pick up right where it left off, it was fairly resistant to radiation and/or EMPs, etc. However, if something went wrong in the program (esp. infinite loops), you had to stop the machine, physically remove the memory core (Typically on some kind of heavy d

      • by ardor (673957)
        Well of course this issue needs to be adressed. The beauty of non-volatile RAM is that temporary files and temporary memory blocks are the same thing. So, do all non-persistent calculations in a tmp block (may be even visible in something like /tmp/, although that directory would be filled with LOTS of files then), and use persistent blocks only if its useful (like, a document).

        malloc/new don't change; they still give you a temporary block thats gone once you free it. Persistent file access should use diffe
  • Stupid article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:24AM (#19687123)
    Sorry, but the article is just dumb.

    How can you put quantum and organic computing on the same list as a hack to join up a bunch of projectors to make a larger screen and a fricking "beanbag" mouse that you wave about?

  • For a mere $12,000, you could build a home theater that stands up to the $100,000 image at local movie houses. Better yet, you could throw a projector party. Twelve friends show up with 12 off-the-shelf projectors, and suddenly you've got a wall-size image none of you could hope to produce on your own. And this mega-display is good for more than just movies. It might be even better for 3D games.

    Yeah, never mind all that business about hi-res goggle displays, lets do the macro sized version.

    • by Weedlekin (836313)
      "Yeah, never mind all that business about hi-res goggle displays, lets do the macro sized version."

      Yes, for a mere 1/8th the cost of buying a commercial cinema system that people pay to come and see, you'll be able to have something nearly as good _in your own home_ where you can watch movies that were screened on the commercial system a year ago in much lower definition Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, or spend a week or two downloading the full IMAX version. I personally can't wait for the chance to spend a mere 150 vi
    • This is probably the most useless invention, from a "average user" practical standpoint. I don't know any HT folks that would de-mount and unhook their projector to take it to a friends house to gang. And if you had 12k for a projector, plus several computers (remember - you'd need 12 video-outs), you could probably get one far better that projects the current maximum consumer-available content. And that doesn't even begin to address color tracking and contrast ratio with differing projectors, or the fact t
  • Thanks for telling me what they are, that way I don't read the article.
  • Saying this is going to reinvent computing is like saying habaneros are just a bit spicy. At the very least, this will completely overhaul civilization.
  • IMAX at home? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:33AM (#19687345)
    Wait, has anyone ever TRIED the whole 'theatre at home' thing? Even if you could sacrifice your entire living room to set up the gigantic screen, and arrange the seats to advantage, you -still- don't get the same experience as the theatre. The screen there is taller than your house and the volume and bass on the speakers would have the neighbors calling the cops.

    I've only got a 37" TV and I decided not to replace it with a 50" Plasma because I just didn't have room for a bigger one. There's no way I could possibly put an IMAX-class screen in my house, even if it only meant keeping 1 wall clear to project on.

    People go to the theatre for the experience and to get out of the house, and you just can't do that at home.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by night_flyer (453866)
      plus at the theater you get the benefit of screaming kids, someone talking on their cell phone, overpriced concessions and your shoes sticking to the floor!
    • by Shotgun (30919)
      I have a projector at home. True, it isn't as large as the theater, but you sit much closer. Actually, you sit where you damn well please. Arrive late to a popular showing, and get stuck in the front row. You sit staring straight up, only able to capture a portion of the screen in your field of view. Bigger is not always better (at least that's what she said).

      You don't need as much volume or bass at home. Sit on the speaker if you really want to shake, but proximity and clarity trumps "volume to drown
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:58AM (#19687469)
    This concept was published in Make in one of their first year issues. It might have been the same guy and Microsoft just bought it out -- but it sure looks to be in the public domain. Here is a link to the Make article: http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/07/soap_ mouse.html [makezine.com]

    There is also a video on YouTube (search for soap mouse" on how to make and use one. It's basically just a mouse in a sock.

    And PC Magazine... what can I say? I haven't been there in a while and was amazed at all the crap on their web pages. One little block of text and the rest of the page is nothing but ad links. Very sad.
  • by niceone (992278) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:04AM (#19687503) Journal
    12 off-the-shelf projectors, for when one projector isn't noisy enough for you.
  • by 4D6963 (933028)

    1. IMAX at Home

    How novel! How revolutionary! A very high-res screen! Let me be the first to predict the 70 GHz CPU, the 40 TB hard drive and the 100 Gbps home internet connection!

    2. The Midair Mouse

    Other people have pointed out why this idea is flawed, I mean come on, it's obvious enough..

    3. The Perfect Machine

    If I understand correctly, a quantum computer wouldn't be suited for home/office use, since it's good at performing pretty special kind of operations. Not to mention I don't think we're that clos

  • "In other words," said Benji, steering his curious little vehicle right over to Arthur, "there's a good chance that the structure of the question is encoded in the structure of your brain - so we want to buy it off you."

    "What, the question?" said Arthur.

    "Yes," said Ford and Trillian.

    "For lots of money," said Zaphod.

    "No, no," said Frankie, "it's the brain we want to buy."

    "What!"

    "I thought you said you could just read his brain electronically," protested Ford.

    "Oh yes," said Frankie, "but we'd have to g

  • MAX-quality movies at home with new projectors - cool, but just an incremental advance, hardly a revolution.
    mid-air mouse that requires no flat surface - useful if it enables us to get away from having to be at a desk to use a computer, but we're already close to being there thanks to notebooks, tablets, PDAs, smartphones, wearables, etc. These devices do need some kind of useful input device, but whether this is it remains to be seen.
    a home quantum computer - Let's concentrate on building *a* quantum comp
    • by Zarf (5735)
      Yeah, I'm with you. This article should create a resounding "DUH" in the geekosphere. Sadly, some peter-rabbit out there in the media burrow is probably freaking out over this article.
  • No mention of the big two? The AI singularity and nano green goo?

    Not to mention Big Brother surveillance/data mining -- government, corporate, and health care.

    I guess a magazine intended to sell technology advertising can't talk about the negative aspects of technology.

  • Soap goes one step further: It works in midair. With this new-age pointing device, now under development at Microsoft Research, you can navigate your PC using nothing but a bare hand.

    Waving your hands in the air like you just don't care in order to operate your computer, huh. Where have I heard this one before?

    For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive - you merely had to brush th

  • nothing new, get the gyro mouse from CompUSA (if you're lucky enough to still have a store near you) for 60 bucks. I've got one, and it certainly doesn't make things much easier, FPS gaming, for example, is much harder with one.
  • The "What we have now only bigger", people are wrong and will disappear.

     
  • While things like CP/M and MS-DOS (all the way to Windows) allowed the formation of a critical mass of compatible computers and thus, the formation of the whole software industry we know now, it also creates a huge amount of inertia.

    That's why almost every computer sold today is, in essence, a remake of the IBM 5150.

    This inertia cannot simply be ignored. People won't buy a computer that runs no software these days. One would have, at least, to port a desktop environment to it.
  • I think desktops capable of parallel processing - which can be 1000 times faster than currents PCs - hold a lot more promise for the near term.

    http://news.digitaltrends.com/news/story/13371/des ktop_parallel_processor_developed [digitaltrends.com]

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