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Big Bang of Convergence 430

joNDoty writes "Businessweek is running a story predicting 'This is going to be the most disruptive period in the past 50 years." The period they are talking about is the digital age of convergence, where every software/hardware manufacturer is racing to link cell phones, tvs and computers into universal devices 'that can't be categorized as tech or consumer electronics.' 'The result is a Big Bang of convergence, and it's likely to produce the biggest explosion of innovation since the dawn of the Internet.' Overrated? Perhaps, but +1 insightful nonetheless." Sure, your fridge will tell you you need milk, but convergence is not necessarily a good thing.
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Big Bang of Convergence

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  • Too 'low-tech' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rixstep ( 611236 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @03:26PM (#9433440) Homepage
    Sure, your fridge will tell you you need milk

    This is way too low-tech.

    What your fridge should tell you is:

    'Hey dude, I know you're thinking of buying milk today, but I just read an article online about a bad shipment of milk to stores in this area, so I'd hold off a day or two until there's more details. I'll tell you when it's safe again, OK?

    'Oh - and of course I tested the milk you still have inside me, and that's OK to drink. Just don't buy any more until I say so.'

    THAT is hi-tech. That is convergence.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @03:31PM (#9433511) Homepage Journal
    A microprocessor is general enough to perform a variety of operations. It provides this functionality by providing a flexible set of basic operations called it's instruction set.

    Given such a generalized processor, we do away with the need to manufacture dedicated electronic hardware - and provide the functionality in specialized software which instructs the general-purpose microprocessor to perform a specific task. This is cheaper since software is easily reproduced/copied at a minimal cost.

    A capable generic microprocessor can perform the functions of most electronic devices (calculations, DSP, gaming device, prototyping etc) as long as software/peripherals is available for it. No wonder then that we're seeing electronic companies jumping on the idea of writing firm/software for generic microprocessors in an effort to expand their range of products at reduce costs.

    I predict that in a few years, we will have a single cheap generic microprocessor which will be found in most (or all) consumer electronic devices. Electronic companies will be largely reduced to software companies dedicated to writing software instead.

  • Re:Convergence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrIcee ( 550834 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @03:51PM (#9433797) Homepage
    The problem you are referring to is fashion. I have no problem using a 5 year old walkman. I have no problem wearing non-faggy rollerblades from 1997. But most people just buy things based on look. They don't even know how to use them.

    *cough* Apple *cough*

    go'head kill me

    Well... for starters... if your 5 year old walkman constantly skipped tracks, or your rollerblades wheels tended to fall off from time to time, you would probably replace them.

    Kinda like my old Windows PC... When OS X came out... I got rid of the broken shit and replaced it with something that worked. The fact that it looks nice to is an added benefit but not the reason for the purchase. (Though I will agree that nobody does pretty plastic better than Apple).

  • by Strych9 ( 126433 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @03:51PM (#9433802)
    With the advent of RFID tags, corporations will be able to view and montior exact when we use their product. Do you really want your fridge telling people what you eat and when?

    Let me be more precise, how about your fridge telling your insurance company that you eat too much ice cream/iced tea/coke whatever. Your medical insurance goes up because you are being a risk for diabetes.

    Of course now you are saying, no problem, I just won't volunteer to get one. Fine, but over time you will have no choice but to buy one with that "feature".

    It is around the corner, it will make life in the former Soviet Union look like a utopia of privacy. (Thank that is a dumb statement? with the DMCA: Dmetri Skylov became a criminal for talking about faulty encryption, aka exercising free speech and was arrested, if this can happen why not something further on?)
  • by mekkab ( 133181 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:02PM (#9433936) Homepage Journal
    Sorry to burst your bubble, but my non-techie wife (a LAWYER, for crying out loud!) has come to grips with the VL-900. Infact, she can even "reverse engineer" her way out if in the wrong "mode."

    Yes this took years to accomplish.
  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:02PM (#9433938) Homepage Journal
  • by Darth Maul ( 19860 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:04PM (#9433967) Homepage
    I have to jump in here. I have a VL900 and love it. It is the perfect remote. Learning, with custom labels, but the buttons are actual buttons and not a touch screen. I had a RCA touchscreen remote, but I couldn't stand the lack of tactile feedback when hitting buttons.
  • Urban commando phone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:22PM (#9434190) Journal
    I live my life with a cell phone stuck to my waist. It's a way of life - I'll be outside, lounging in the backyard with a good Sagan book, and I need to ask one of the kids to change out the laundry.

    I reach for my hip, call the house (50 feet away) and tell one of the kids to change out the laundry.

    However, there are a few itches that, if scratched, would make my phone ohhh so much more utilitarian.

    I could care less about downloadable ring tones, and the crappy resolution in most picture-phones leaves alot to be desired.

    I'm picturing the ultimate in day-to-day utility.

    I call it: the "Urban Commando Phone"

    OK, picture this:

    Your ordinary, average-looking cell phone, containing:

    1) A cell phone - very stock, very ordinary. Clips to your belt like any decent cell phone should.

    2) A flashlight - using a single, blue-white LED bulb on one of the top corners, you have an instant, usable, but not particularly bright flashlight. Help you find your keys, whatever. Why hasn't anybody thought of this no-brainer?

    3) A universal remote control. You have all those buttons on your cell phone, you have plenty of battery life, why not a trainable universal remote control? Best part - if you lose it, you can just call it with another phone!
  • Re:My thoughts. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:23PM (#9434203) Homepage Journal
    I think that the thing that makes convergance possible when it actually happens will be fact that half of your devices "process digitial information and use a peripheral" and the other half "transfer digital information".

    It won't be long before the only difference between an answering machine and a PVR is what the connectors are (optionally send recorded data, record data, replay data). It also won't be long before the connectors are the same, too (802.11 or ethernet, TCP/IP).

    The products which succeed will probably be things that do one thing well and make that functionality available to other devices. I bet a programmable headset with 802.11 and ethernet that does VoIP and streaming audio would do well before long. The same chipset in some nice speakers would also do well.
  • Re:My thoughts. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @04:41PM (#9434407) Homepage Journal
    I've never seen my PC make toast or drive a nail, although it can keep toast warm after its made.

    I don't know about using a PC to keep toast warm, but I routinely use my PC's monitor to soften butter for use in baking. It's slower and far more controllable than the microwave.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito