Flexi-devices blaze a new trend in digital innovation | india | Hindustan Times
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Flexi-devices blaze a new trend in digital innovation

Looking back, the year 2008 belonged to smartphones, 2009 to the netbook and 2010 — thanks to the Apple iPad and its rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy and Dell Streak — to the tablets.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 20:42 IST
N Madhavan

Looking back, the year 2008 belonged to smartphones, 2009 to the netbook and 2010 — thanks to the Apple iPad and its rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy and Dell Streak — to the tablets.

But, beyond the hype surrounding the big trends and power brands, there are innovations that are telling me another story — about how small companies are trying out niche products with their own special effect. This is now possible thanks to three factors: the open standards that makes design and marketing the centrepiece of the digital device economy, the ability to manufacture in places like China at low cost and the way human needs can be so multifarious as to create the need for niche products.

Last week, I heard about the “projector mobile.” Made by Chennai-based Techberry mobiles. It projects high-resolution images or videos on any surface. Now, imagine a classroom where a teacher downloads a videoclip on a 3G connection and projects it on the wall in a remote village. This could be the future of education for you!

Strangely, I had envisioned the arrival of this product some months ago, based on how things were moving in the industry. After Philips came out with a machine that could help Indians convert music in their cassettes to MP3 files on USB storage devices, Videocon came out with a TV that bundled in a set-top box for satellite connections.

I can see from the above the emergence of the “flexi-devices” — as I call them. While utility-based devices are dramatically attractive to me, I also notice design improvements that have their own appeal. Motorola this year launched its “Flipout” — a compact smartphone with a touchscreen that rotates to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. It is small, with a square-shaped screen that looks weird to some. But I like the spirit of the device: it changes rules!

Now, what I am looking for is a real tablet computer — say, with a screen-size of 8 inches or more — but very similar to the Android-platform based Flipout otherwise. For a fast-typing QWERTY freak like me, it can serve as both a device of convenience and a substitute for a netbook. If such a device is not already there, it is only a question of time before it arrives in the market.

And over the weekend, I saw a little known brand called MVL announce a mobile device as a “music station” in its ads during the India-New Zealand one-day cricket match. Small variation but very effective for a particular section of the youth.

Beyond the great brands and big trends lies the quiet revolution that “flexi-devices” may be ushering in.