A New Vision of the Phone-Based Office

Up until today my conception of the “office of the (near) future” is that it would be based on the laptop. So, for example, you would walk in with your laptop, strap it into a cradle, sit back in a reclining chair, and go to work using the laptop screen for visuals and using peripherals for keyboard, mouse, etc.

In such an office, you would still need the traditional structures for managing paper: it's not going away any time soon. But rather than needing large structures for housing the monitor and the tower, all of the supporting structures (except the chair) could be folded away into a small space. Imagine an office that could fit into a cavity in your wall. (I discuss my early prototype of this in my “built-in cabinets” series.)

So, that brings us to today. Have a look at this video:

The fact that these technologies are already so close to being ready for the mainstream market leads me to the following conclusions:

First, though I had been expecting most cell phones to soon include projectors that could act like a monitor when projected on a suitable surface, what I didn't anticipate is that such a “screen” would also function as a touch/sketch screen. Now it's clear that it will. Your phone will soon function as both the “wiimote” and the projector in this video, allowing you to have an office anyplace you can find or create a clean surface upon which to project. A cradle/tripod for holding the phone in the right orientation would be needed.

Second, this means that the high-tech office is going to quickly adopt this technology and laptops will become obsolete. What can a laptop give us now that a phone can't? We already need a separate keyboard for protracted writing sessions.

Third, this means that the structures of the high-tech office just got simpler. The main structure needed now is a lightweight white screen that includes a phone cradle off to one side. And a chair and paper-management area, as always.