Smart objects

I was watching yesterday the Microsoft Office Labs 2019 Vision. The common theme throughout both videos was the ubiquity of the smart objects. For an example, take a look at 2:20 in the second video, where the actor looks at a PDA-like object and then detaches the top half of it to get two separate devices that interact, one as a main display and one as a secondary display offering auxiliary function (in that particular case it looked like a location based service).

This really reminded me of the Siftables scenario. Except that Siftables targets kids. Than again, in ten years the kids that play today with Siftables will be in their teen age and smart objects will be something they grew up with. (On a side note, after I posted this on Facebook, I got comments from couple of people my age that were skeptic about how useful and feasible that scenario is. Maybe it is not only a technology, but also an age problem… :-))

One interesting detail about the smart objects in that video (and I still don’t know if it is a side effect of the rendering or intentional effect) was the lack of border on al the smart objects in the video. All the different devices throughout the video were rendering the UI all the way to the edge. This allows for composition of two smart objects to form one whole bigger object visually. Something Siftables does not offer yet.

It is also interesting to figure out the software platform these smart objects would run on. Granted, this is Microsoft vision, so the underlying assumption is that all of these devices run on some form of Windows. :-) Still, to enable such seamless integration, either all the objects have to run the same platform and be able to transform software agents between each other, or they all should be running smart software agents that talk the same protocol for negotiating the composite UI and data processing.

Or maybe the actual processing is done by a big machine and the “smart” objects are just dumb terminals that render the UI and use short-range radio (Bluetooth or wi-fi) to connect. Even though I don’t like this scenario, that might be the practical approach.

Anyway, it would be interesting to watch that space in the next few years.

If you’d like to talk more about this, ping me on Twitter.

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