Oct 012010
 

Seabird Phone

As laptop computers continue to shrink in size and mobile phones become more and more powerful, can it be that long before the two merge into a device with the portability of a mobile phone and the functionality of a laptop?

While it is just a matter of time before the power of a fully-fledged PC can be crammed inside a device the size of a mobile phone, our fingers aren’t getting any smaller so overcoming the problems of interacting with such a small device will require some creative thinking. Creative thinking like that of designer Billy May who has come up with a mobile phone concept called the “Seabird” that is designed to address some of the frustrations people face when using such physically small devices.

May developed the concept phone as part of Mozilla Labs’ Concept Series, which asked people to share ideas and develop concepts around Firefox, the Mozilla projects and the Open Web as a whole. In early 2009, May, who also came up with the Hindsight concept glasses, developed a throwaway concept for an “Open Web Concept Phone”. In response to community feedback on that concept he developed the Seabird that explores what an Open Web phone might look like and how one would interact with it.

Virtual keyboard

The popularity of standard 3 x 4 keypads has declined as the popularity ofsmartphones has increased and the capabilities of mobile phones have expanded, to the point where QWERTY keypads – be they physical, such as those found on a BlackBerry, or onscreen, such as those found on the iPhone – are now the norm. Still, the size of these miniaturized keyboards is less than ideal, which is why May has opted for a full-sized QWERTY keyboard using a couple of in-built pico projectors.

When the Seabird is placed down on a flat surface two pico projectors on either side of the device can be used to display a full-sized virtual keyboard with the full complement of keys, while an unmarked area below the base of the phone serves as an infrared touchpad area. Additionally, with the use of a dock the projectors would act independently, with one used to display the virtual keyboard and the other projecting the screen onto a wall.

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