Ideas from the high seas

Innovation doesn't often come when we schedule it, instead it happens when we least expect. Most often when we are looking for a simple solution to a complex problem. Only when we sit down to solve a known problem do we truly begin to discover the nature inside innovation. We can try and schedule, wrap it up policy and structure,  but without the construct of a real (or perceived) problem we tend to miss the mark.

So what problems have I been trying to solve?

Vacations for me have been full of relaxation and innovation. It's only when my mind begins to dissolve the boundaries imparted by business and open up to the possibilities around do I see opportunity. And when I say "around" I really mean with the consumers of the products we make everyday.

At Intel we are actively working on merging the user experience across different computing platforms. This continuum of experience is key to adoption both inside and outside the business arena. However today I have my non-business hat on (and shorts).

There are certain facts about travel today.

  1. We generate more digital content at larger volumes than ever before.
  2. Our devices are running operating systems that do not talk well with one another.
  3. Solution providers have put in place "fixes" in the cloud to solve the interoperability issues.
  4. Not all locations have access to the cloud.

So here I sit on a cruise ship writing a blog entry on my tablet with no cloud access. That means I have to utilize local storage to do this function. For writing a blog entry this is a pretty easy solution. What about storing photos or video content? How about using some of the smarter applications that require a persistent connection such as web-based mapping or GPS?

This is where I arrive at the problem phase that leads naturally into innovation. How do we, collectively as a larger industry of service providers, solve problems like this, in order to enable that continuum of computing?

Storing photos and video content

A long term fix is to fully enable high-bandwidth cloud access on all devices throughout our planet. You would then simply subscribe for space and share with friends and family. Since this won't happen in my lifetime then a more incremental improvement is needed.

How about a device that operates  between our current systems (tablet, phone, computer and camera) allowing for simple data unload/load? This device should be protected against theft (with encryption) and data loss (with internal mirroring). Something like this could either read straight from the media device or the storage card (reader). Add some extra features such as a small screen with indicators (space available, battery levels) and wired network port (for sharing). Make it small and water/shock proof and you help solve one of my major travel headaches.

Before someone explains that we can solve this with a laptop today, did I mention I'm using a small seven inch  tablet? Up until this trip we've used a netbook (plus USB memory stick) with great success,  but I shifted to a tablet wanting more portability. A device that I can use while standing or when a folding form factor just isn't practical. So my network transfer and backup plan is out the window.

I want a device that works seamlessly with my tablet; that solves my backup problem with no impact to my current use patterns for the tablet. Just plug it in (or insert the memory card), select "copy" or "backup", and press a button. No wireless battery drain, no worries of adapters, no concerns over what operating systems work well together. It just works as it should, as naturally as using a keyboard or turning on the television.

"John's Traveling Backup" (JTB) should also be able to unload media for ease in sharing to the cloud or with other devices. How many times, while traveling with a group, have you tried to share media? If someone brought a laptop it becomes a memory card juggling act. And then the laptop owner has to remember to burn media discs (many) and mail to everyone. Truly a device to change the world, or at least make my travels easier.

Although my wanderings brought up and solved a problem, it did show some of the complexity in the compute continuum work we look at solving. Everyone sees problems around them, its only through our individual actions that we can be truly innovative. Problem solving in this space can make our computing experience one of excitement coupled with usability wrapped in joy.

And when someone is ready to work on the JTB System I detailed above, drop me a note. This is a real problem which needs solved for the consumer. A solution which needs technology to solve without getting in the way.

PS: I wrote this on my 7" tablet, while floating through the ocean waters around Alaska.