Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Computing Design Philosophy

It's come to my attention that games have far outpaced desktop environments in raw functionality. Not just from an interface design of hyper efficiency or interactivity but also in utility. With Microsoft Smart Glass and Sony with remote play, continuous play, and second screen, we have entered into a reality where we can watch movies, and play games on multiple devices and screen simultaneously and independently of each other.

I envision in the near future where desktops namely windows finally adopt similar technology allowing for a singular unified workspace and hybrid computing. Like how I can take my vita which I'm using to play a game on the ps3 or 4 and as long as I already have it on my vita in some cases I can just walk away while I'm still playing and everything is fine, or in some cases I might need a short load function to resume the game right where I was. I see the near future where I can take a microsoft surface tablet and use it not only as a mirrored or extended display, but have a perfectly synced work environment that allows me to work on a word document on the surface and the desktop at the same time in such a way that while the host program might be on the desktop and the surface is only apparently mirroring the desktop in fact I could suffer catastrophic power failure and instead keep working on the tablet as if nothing had happened.

We can already do this with movies. I've literally been watching a movie which wasn't streaming but was on both my surface and my desktop and they were in sync having launched as a kind of second screen, then a blackout forced my computer into a blue screen in spite of my power supply and backup, yet on my surface the movie kept rolling without interruption.

We can do this with games on the ps3/4 with the vita. I don't mean remote play, or silly loading of save files however advanced they may be. I mean truly independent functionality of eachother in a singular environment. Consider something like luftrausers where you think you're playing it like remote play, you see it on your vita screen and on the tv, then suddenly power loss and the entire sytem loses power, wifi is down, system is down, etc, and yet your vita keeps on playing as if nothing happened because they were functioning on their own even if they were working on the exact same content. While this isn't an actual example my understanding is that it actually is extremely possible if it hasn't actually been done yet then you should expect it. Ruin for example was doing this in 2011 with a tiny save file that took a half a second or less between the two devices or save and or load and some remote play games have this with a one button command.

We already have workspace environments  where people can drop in and out while working on the same project, like 3d models, and puzzles, without it effecting the work. It would not be a leap to imagine that they could take a current progress snapshot of the project and keep working on it using a mobile device without being connected to the project.

Imagine if you will a group of people counting. Any member can leave and keep counting on their own and the group can keep counting without them. Multiple members can leave and the same is true. At any point those members can come back and keep counting, and ideally as if though they had never left. This is a metaphorical example of how modern desktops should function in a mobile world. I should be able to use a surface tablet and work on my windows desktop perhaps writing in word then walk away with the tablet and keep working on the same word document as though nothing had happened or changed. Two independent systems syncing together as a single hybrid unit so long as they are able to communicate and functioning on their own even in the face of abrupt termination of communications. It may be the case that I'm already working on a surface and then windows detects I pulled in the driveway and then loads up my surface and what I'm currently doing and simply opens word on its own, syncs up, and is ready for when I sit down at my desktop. At most this system integration if it couldn't be seamless should be no more than a single button or gesture to activate.

Most of this as I've been saying is already available and possible and not only can be done but has been done. I imagine someone reading this could even write an app to do it with minimal effort. My horrible programming skills even were enough to get a proof of concept up and running with notepad. I managed to sync notepads and inputs using keyboard inputs from both the surface and my physical keyboard for my desktop and when I got far enough out of range of the desktop where I could no longer use it as a mirrored display it pushed that view aside to reveal my surface environment running notepad with the same text already input and ready for new input. While this is a huge difference from say running photoshop in the same way, the fact it can be done with notepad is enough for me to conclude on top of other evidence that it is extremely possible.

So what do you think of a unified environment? Is anyone else hyped for the realistic possibility that your windows 10 and tablets might take your internet browsing and make it seamless? If you had this power in your hands would you actually use it?

As an edited in post note. If you can't wait for some intrepid developer to write proper code for this idea and make it a reality, and you've got the money, then I will direct you to the thunderbolt hardware technology. This tech can allow a tablet or laptop immediate access to additional hardware using a single small plug which can just as easily be removed like usb. It can support multiple connections for multiple devices which themselves may have multiple pieces of associated hardware and can do so at extreme speeds. In many example setups they have a small tower filled with additional ram, gpu's, hard drives, a monitor, and more which the laptop immediately reacts to and can utilize. There are also ports and cards on modern motherboards for desktops that could allow a tablet or laptop to gain access to all such hardware and the entire system. This while not quite the same as described above is functionally very similar. 

1 comment:

  1. The tech is geting pretty amazing, I just wish the industry would get more creative with it's games. Especially western developers who all want to make FPSs.