Friday, August 24, 2007

And it calculates the tip amount, too!

We have devices for displaying big things, like movies and television shows, and we have devices for displaying small things, like mp3's and photos. However, to many experts in consumer electronics, it seems like there should be a single device that does all these things, a "Device of Everything". When you pick up the electronics insert from your Sunday paper and see a PDA with wireless networking or a cell phone that plays music, know that these aren't silly toys or expensive affectations. Each one is an attempt to solve a great mystery, it is the newest hypothesis of the "Unified Device Theory."

Some will say that this Device of Everything can't be created or that it requires a knowledge of multimedia that we simply don't have yet. But everyone agrees that a true Unified Device Theory would have to incorporate the four major forces of handheld electronics.

1. Strong multimedial force - The device must be able to play movies and TV shows that you've already seen.

2. Weak multimedial force - The device must provide you with mp3's that you've already heard, plus show funny web videos and give you constant access to Facebook.

3. Electric force - After the first commercial airplane passengers got over the miracle of defying gravity and the thrill of flying like a bird, they immediately started looking around for something to do for several hours in such a tight, enclosed space. This problem still exists today and it's the driving force behind device research, which is why a true Unified Device has to run on battery power for five hours or more.

4. Gravitational Force - The Device of Everything must be pocketable, or at least fit comfortably in a ridiculous belt clip.

Because those forces are a lot to balance, a number of approaches have been tried to find the Unified Device. Some say that only a computer can govern both the strong and weak multimedial forces, so the answer must involve taking computer and making it smaller and more power efficient. Other experts think that PDA's like the Palm and the PocketPC are best for managing gravitational force, so we need to infuse those devices with video playback and wireless networking. Still others, the newly founded "cell phone revisionists", think that no device will survive unless it's in widespread use, so the only solution is to keep piling new functions into every cell phone.

There's no way to know which approach will prove the most successful, but with enough time we may one day see the creation of the "Device of Everything", a single device that's pocketable, power-efficient, and provides hours of entertainment.*

*Wait a minute.

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