Harry Chesley writes about when eveything computes in his new blog Meme Motes. In this recent blog entry, Harry challenged himself to make a prediction about the future:

“Once paint-on computing is a reality, user interface as we know it becomes freed from virtually every limitation. You don’t have to sit at a computer screen any more. You don’t have to use a mouse. You don’t need a keyboard unless you decide it’s the best way to input data. There’s enough computing power to do anything you want in terms of graphics and animation. In short, the UI is limited only by your imagination and human psychology. You can paint the computer onto a piece of 8.5×11 paper, onto a business card, onto a wall, onto a desktop, or onto your own skin. All those separate pieces are connected to be one interwoven, interactive, real-time computer system.”

Now that he mentions it, it seems inevitable. The other day, my six-year-old boy said to me: “I forget, what’s a nanobot?” After telling him a bit about the scale of a nanometer and discussing robots of that size and what I little I know about state-of-the-art nanotechnology, I asked him how he knew about nanobots. Of course, this technology is an everyday phenonmenon on the Power Puff Girls, Jimmy Neutron and Totally Spies. Our kids are growing up with wild expectations for computing and technology. It will be interesting to see what they invent.

One thought on “paint-on computing

  1. Vernor Vinge’s “Deepness in the Sky” paints a detailed picture of what it would be like to interact with this kind of computing environment. In the book, the computing elements are tiny dust motes that drift through the air, communicating via short-range wireless and powered by microwaves. A couple of applications he describes are mobile ad-hoc networks, virtual retinal displays (like Microvision’s headset), and remote surveillance. So instead of (or in addition to) painting a computer on a surface, it would also be possible to “fill” a room with computation.

What do you think?