Our devices have progressed at an unprecedented rate in recent years, and yet the basic limitations in the way we use them remain. Connecting a cable, switching between profiles as you switch from one device to another, and trying to remember a file you hid are some of the awkward tasks we still do today. And these headaches are only intensified in the shift to work from home, where the ecosystems of products are often more unrelated than in the office.
Dell, in an attempt to simplify the way we communicate with our gadgets, has downloaded three new concepts: Concept Flow, Concept Money and Concept Stanza. Each of them aims to address a specific limitation with current work environments with the common goal of making it easier for users to switch between devices. These are not revolutionary concepts, but when implemented in practice, they could save time and reduce stress.
Concept flow: Build a bridge
Less concrete in form than others, Concept Flow is Dell’s vision of using modern wireless standards, such as Wi-Fi 6e and Bluetooth, to interconnect different devices so you can get right work (or play) the moment you sit down.
What exactly does this look like? Imagine walking into your home office and your laptop wirelessly connecting to your monitor without having to lower it and open the screen, and when you sit down, your wireless mouse and keyboard are ready to go. When you put it on laptop on your desk, starts to charge, no cables needed. When you’re done, proximity sensors detect when you’ve left the office and automatically turn everything off. In this scenario, lifting the lid of your laptop, fiddling with the cables and pressing the power button are a thing of the past.
Some of the basic technologies Dell describes already existing in mainstream products. Lenovo and Dell’s own laptops come with proximity sensor software to dim the screen when you look away or put the laptop to sleep when you leave the room. Going back to Dell’s rival, Lenovo is already making a wireless laptop charger some types, although Dell envisions this being better integrated into your workspace. In this case, built into the table. It all sounds convenient and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works together and how Dell goes beyond a potential platform compatibility barriers.
Concept Money: a wireless webcam wherever you need it
The above may sound theoretical, but Dell has already started paving the way. It starts with Concept Pari, a wireless webcam that can be moved from one room to another, or from a monitor to a stand, so you can focus the lens on mock-ups, prototypes or anything else you want to share with video participants.
Weighing less than one ounce, the Pari is a miniature device that connects to different surfaces via a magnet on the back. The pair has a built-in power light, alignment indicator and integrated USB-C wireless charging dock.
Dell lists some specific business uses, but I see a wider appeal to everyday consumers — I’m tired of dragging around my Logitech C920, and laptops (sorry Dell, yours included) have horrible integrated webcams. Upgrading built-in webcams to a minimum resolution of 1080p should be a priority for all laptop manufacturers, and until that happens, something like this wireless version could serve as an alternative, especially if the thin screen bezels on today’s laptops don’t allow for a decent camera.
I could see myself throwing this into the smallest sleeve in my backpack and carrying it to conferences, personal briefings or while traveling. I also think this webcam could be found in classrooms so teachers can show documents, experiments or a blackboard without wasting valuable lesson time.
Stanza concept: Notes without borders
Touch screens are ubiquitous, giving us the ability to record manually. But transferring these notes from one device to another is not always easy. With Concept Stanza, Dell is trying to simplify the process of writing notes using an 11-inch PC “tracking device”. In tablet form, Stanza gives you a large canvas for drawing or taking notes as well converts your handwriting to double-tap text.
In the demonstration, Dell showed how your scribbles immediately appears on a nearby computer the moment Stanza is put on his wireless dock. Being able to extract your notes on any device without much effort could stop you from emailing files to yourself or downloading them from the cloud.
Closely integrated devices will make life easier, but remember that these benefits already exist to some extent if you are committed to Samsung or Apple’s ecosystems. I also question the appeal of a downloaded device made solely for recording. This PC companion should have the right price to justify your pubuy something like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet for $ 250.
They are still in the prototype phase, so we don’t know if and when they will arrive, although some of the ideas within these concepts are already on the market in some form. Although this is not as exciting as Razer’s Project Valerie nor as significant as Concept Luna, Dell’s sustainable and repairable vision of laptops, sometimes simple ideas are the ones that make a measurable difference. Even if these humble concepts are not the solution, the goal of removing the boundaries that exist between our devices is one that we can all go beyond while figuring out what office work will look like in the future.
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