Saturday, April 04, 2015

I want a Zenith CruisePad for my iPhone

I finally realized what I want.

I don’t want an iPad.

I don’t want an aWatch.

I want a Zenith CruisePad for my iPhone …

Rather than a free-standing slate/tablet computer, the Zenith CruisePAD was a remote terminal to one's PC. It was designed to allow the user to interact with that PC's applications from a distance over a wireless network. What made it interesting to me was that it let one do so directly on the CruisePAD's screen, using either a stylus or finger.

This was an interesting approach given when it was released. In that year, 1995, neither Wi-Fi (which came into existence in 1999 with the formation of the Wi-Fi Alliance), nor the IEEE 802.11 protocols on which it was based, were available (the original version of the IEEE 802.11 standard was not released until 1997). Hence, it relied upon a proprietary 2.4 Ghz spread-spectrum radio protocol which they called CruiseLAN…

We played with tech like this at a 1990s Electronic Health Record/transaction processing startup called (no trace of it on the web btw, domain taken long ago). Ultimately impractical, but very cool. This was the era of the PalmPilot device, and we (ok, I) imagined walking up to a wall display and automatically switching from the itty-bitty Palm display to something real big.

That’s what I want for my iPhone. I don’t want the cost and hassle of another OS with all of the overhead of apps and licensing and bugs and DRM restrictions and updates and hacks. I just want a frigging wireless dumb display that can be shared between multiple devices. It would be nice to play video on it, but really I want to read. I’d be delighted if it used Digital Ink and cost $100 with a 1 week battery life.

That’s what I want. Google is much more likely to do this on Android than Apple on iOS; it’s the one thing that might tempt me to the Dark Side.

I wonder if Apple’s App Store rules prevent a 3rd party (Amazon?) from producing a reading app that would communicate with a Digital Ink display via Bluetooth….

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