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Thoughts on the Future of Handheld Computing

Tue Sep 23, 2003 - 4:50 PM EDT - By Jake Ehrlich


Editors Comment: Jake's original article, published on August 26th, has been replaced with this updated version

Welcome to the first part of my five part series on the future of handheld computing.  I have written this series based upon the kind of handheld computing software and hardware I as a designer and end user envision and would like to see.  To a large extent this series is based on a presentation I gave Jeff Hawkins the founder of Palm Computing, Handspring and the inventor of the original Palm Pilot.

The following is an outline of what I will be covering in this series:

Part 1: Bullet Train.  The origins of BulletTrain and BulletTrain for the Treo 600.

Part 2: Phantom V Design Reference.  See the futuristic handheld computer I designed which I consider to be close to the perfect form factor.  The Phantom V is approximately two thirds the size of a Treo 600 yet its screen is physically twice the size of the Treo 600s screen.

Part 3 Bullet Train Desktop Dashboard.  I believe that there needs to be a new PIM (Personal Information Manager) desktop application to replace Palm Desktop and Microsoft Outlook.  I designed a highly customizable new user interface that allows you to extend your desktop to the Phantom V and also allows you to run multiple handheld applications on your desktop.

Part 4 Bullet Train Auto Dashboard.  See how I envision cars working with PDAs in the future.

Part 5 Bullet Train Express Schedule.  A replacement for the native Handspring Datebook+ program.

I was able to get a very early preview of the Treo 600 and as a result I wrote an article that was published on TreoCentral named Treo 600: Love at first sight:   http://www.treocentral.com/content/Stories/240-1.htm

As many of you know, I am extremely passionate about design.  I have been designing for two decades and I take design very seriously.  I am also an avid Treo 270 user.  After I wrote my article I contacted Jeff Hawkins and shared with him that I had many ideas on how to take the Treo to next level and beyond.  I had almost two weeks prior to my meeting to prepare. As you will see I not only offered my constructive criticism, but I offered detailed solutions from my outside the fishbowl perspective. 

I invested a great deal of time prior to my meeting coming up with ideas on how to significantly improve the entire Treo-Palm Desktop experience.  I previously developed my BulletTrain Keyboard UI enhancement which you can view below, but because I was so excited and passionate, I kept working on my presentation and ended up designing a handheld device I dubbed the Phantom V.  

If you have any questions or comments about my work product I would be happy to respond in the thread that follows this article.  I would like to see my BulletTrain Keyboard concept made into an application, but I am a full time designer and I do not have the time to produce BulletTrain myself. Interested third party developers can contact me directly for further discussion.  To learn more about my design background and philosophy please go to: www.JakeEhrlich.com

I hope you enjoy reviewing my presentation as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Best regards,

Jake Ehrlich, Designer.

San Francisco, California U.S.A.

Next Page: Part 1: The Origins of BulletTrain and BulletTrain for the Treo 600 >>

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