Our gadgets have progressed at an unprecedented rate in recent years, and yet there are still fundamental limitations in the way we use them. Connecting cables, switching between profiles as you switch from one device to another, and trying to recall a file you hid are some of the awkward tasks we still do today. And those headaches only intensified in the transition to work from home, where product ecosystems 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 resolve certain limitations with current work environments with a combined goal to make 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 having your laptop connect wirelessly 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 laptop down on the table, starts charging, no cables required. When you’re done, proximity sensors detect when you’ve left the office and turn off automatically. In this scenario, lifting the laptop cover, 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 Business Notebooks come with proximity sensor software to dim the screen when you look away or put the notebook to sleep when you leave the room. Going back to Dell’s rival, Lenovo is already making a wireless laptop charger some types, though Dell anticipates that it integrates better 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 is overcoming 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 rack, 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 purposes, but I see a wider appeal to everyday consumers — I’m tired of dragging around my Logitech C920, and laptops (sorry, Dell, including yours) have horrible integrated webcams. Upgrading embedded 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’ve seen myself throw this into the smallest sleeve in my backpack and carry 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 whiteboard 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 the Concept Stanza, Dell is trying to simplify the recording process 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 demo, Dell showed how your scribbles immediately appears on a nearby computer the moment Stanza is put on his wireless dock. The ability to extract notes on any device without much effort could put an end to sending files by email to yourself or downloading from the cloud.
If your devices are closely integrated, it will make your life easier, but keep in mind that these benefits already exist to some extent if you are committed to Samsung or Apple 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 purchase for 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 in some form on the market. Although these aren’t as exciting as Razer’s Project Valerie nor as significant as Luna concept, Dell’s sustainable and repairable laptop vision, 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.