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In Sweden computers reached a wider audience during the 90’s, partly due to government subsidies. This lead to a huge talent pool to draw from and now the Swedish IT-industry is thriving with companies such as Mojang, Spotify and Dice. Young people got exposed to desktop computers at a young age and used that passion to go on and create truly great things.

Laptops saw a rather low market penetration during the 90’s, but this was about to change. Even though they had less power it didn’t take to long before they outsold desktop units. Desktop computers replaced mainframes, by being more common soon they became the de facto environment for developing. They sported less power but a larger pool of talent was larger and they where easier to use due to graphical user interfaces.

Outside of the US, Europe and some Asian countries, computers reached the masses in a more recent iteration, namely in the form of smartphones and tablets. I’d argue that in most of the countries at least a third of the population has access to computers in this way.

My personal introduction to computer technology

The first “serious” code base I ever “worked” with

Personally I have very fond memories of playing around with linux and doing various computer experiments. At that time it meant running back and forth to the library, borrowing books on linux that had installation disks, a requirement due to 56k modems. Instead of just playing FPS-games I could mess around with the Quake 2 source code “improving” the weapons.

All in all these experiences gave me and many other in my generation unique experiences and opened up many doors. Therefore I’m deeply saddened by the fact that current devices aren’t hacker friendly devices but rather locked down machines streamlined by market forces to be as addictive consumption-only devices.

VR-headsets to the rescue

Now we will find that capitalism isn’t all that bad shortly. One problem that we are facing with smart-devices is limited display size. This happened as well when going from desktops to laptops. Competent hackers however could mitigate this by using better window managers. Virtual desktops used with hotkeys for example can make a single screen almost as good as two or even three displays.

Here my bet is that VR-headsets currently capable of displaying 3d-movies and play simple games will be very common. This effectively not only solves the issue of screen estate, but by some metrics supercedes current solutions.

Gaming solutions require high end graphics cards and advanced tracking solutions. For productive purposes we basically only need text output. More or less we are talking about a few surfaces containing terminals. These might as well be connected to virtual machines that for a few dollars a month can provide for all the required number crunching that you’d ever want.

Like what I am doing?

How about not using only two thumbs?

Zach Peter’s morse code experiment

Due to the fact that mobile devices need to be held, eight of our ten fingers can not be used for input. Severely limiting input capabilities. If instead a gamepad or gloves where used the input rate could again be potentially higher than current solutions.

Currently I’m working with Zach Peters A.K.A. the helpfulhacker to create an implementation that is using this method to get around steep learning curves. If this sounds interesting and you’d like to participate do not hesitate to contact us.

That’s nice and all, but why are you only using a tablet?

So my idea is to follow the principles of universal design, that is that optimizations done on extreme cases translates over the whole spectrum. Also I’m getting valuable qualitative data on current implementations. Let me tell you this, for someone developing / administrating with the lingua Franca of computes i.e. UNIX/shell computing power is not the issue. Here I’m dealing with a 512 mb tablet.

I started out with a bluetooth keyboard, to mash out the initial code base. Now I’ve moved over to touch QWERTY and it works rather well. Mostly due to the power of VIM and tmux, which allow you to do so much with so little.

Soon I hope that whatever code is developed will morph into a text editor with shell support that will make tablets usable for practical purposes.

Want to see more of this?

All of this is done on an ideal open source basis. To keep it that way your support is very needed. Please get in touch if you have ideas, share with people that might and check out patreon and paypal below!

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2 Comments

  1. Really interesting idea. I agree that the display real estate problem is mostly solved by vr headsets.
    What hardware are you currently implementing with?
    I don’t quite follow your intention with input gloves. Are you hoping to simply emulate a virtual keyboard or move to some form of gestural input ala sign language for computers?
    Very cool starting thesis.

    1. Currently there is no hardware in particular. Basically the idea is that the concept can be implemented via keyboard to measure efficiency as in the doug demo.

      We are doing an experiment with morse code right now, to really test the extreme case of the scenario and get the procedures up and running

      If you are interested in participating I can send you an invite to the chat, so that you can be part of the discussion and come with ideas!

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