Smartphones have come such a long way from the basic cell phones of yesteryear and are such an integrated part of our society that it almost seems like we should be able to turn anything “smart” and have it be a hit product. After all, you’re just taking a basic product and making it “better”, or at least able to do more things. When I first learned about the concept of cell phones, I never thought that they would also grow to be my main media playing device, my camera, my calculator, and a whole lot more. The best part about them is that the concept worked so well that 7 years on we’re still making newer and better smartphones.
So, theoretically, if the idea were to work so well with cell phones, why couldn’t it work with other gadgets as well? In some cases, it has. Smartwatches are kind of on the rise at this point, and although I don’t hear a lot of talk about Google Glass (or any other smartglasses) it wasn’t a concept that was totally shut out. We also have smart TVs and smart socks. It seems that there is room for the “smart” market to grow. Naturally, companies are going to want to be the first to try and get a new type of smart gadget out. Just look at Sony, who went so far to patent smart wigs.
The other day I came across an IndieGoGo campaign for a new type of smart device, called Portal, a “smartsleeve”. The concept of the smartsleeve is pretty simple: it’s a smartphone-sized screen that bends to fit around your arm. It’s a smartphone for your arm. You know, for when smartwatches aren’t enough and when smartphones are too bothersome to hold. With a smartsleeve, you can just wear your phone on your arm. Ta-da!
The campaign has since mysteriously disappeared, but CNet still has a pretty comprehensive overview of the of the project. I did kind of wonder what the people who came up with this campaign were thinking, or more or less dreaming, I should say. The very concept of Portal is extremely futuristic and not likely something that couldn’t get funded by billionaires everywhere if they had an actual, legit work in progress, like they had claimed. It’s not like the industry hasn’t already teased the idea of a flexible display, like the LG G Flex, Samsung Galaxy Round, or [insert favorite iPhone 6 Plus joke here]. I don’t think it’s something that a simple crowdfunding campaign would have been able to make happen at this point in time.
The very idea of a “smartsleeve”, however, doesn’t seem it would be that bad of an idea. As mentioned before, manufacturers are already trying to make “flexible” displays happen; if this does eventually come to fruition, then you already have one part of the product finished - a flexible smartphone. Now all you need are straps to keep them to your arm, and probably a special “Sleeve Mode” to make the phone optimal for usage while attached to the arm. It could very well become an additional feature to a smartphone of the flexible nature, but I don’t see an actual, standalone smartsleeve becoming a “thing”. A flexible smartphone with the option of being used as a smartsleeve would likely work out much better.
Having this option in a smartphone would also be a direct competitor to the smartwatch. While the smartwatch has made several strides over the past year or so (adding cameras and additional functionality) it’s not exactly one of the hottest products on the market yet. I myself still haven’t quite found the need to purchase a smartwatch, particularly because I’m a dingus that has enough trouble remembering to plug my phone in at night sometimes, much less a smartwatch. Perhaps if the smartwatch had better battery life, or I really didn’t have the time to pull out my smartphone to check the notifications when I needed to, then perhaps I could justify it. But I simply don’t have enough reasons or money to go out and purchase a smartwatch; I feel like a lot of people are in the same boat. If a smartsleeve was just part of the package, then it would be something to consider.
The crowdfunding campaign didn’t sway me, but the idea isn’t too far-fetched. Readers, what are your thoughts on the concept of Portal? Do you think you’d ever wear an entire smartphone on your arm, or do you think smartwatches have a better chance at succeeding?
Images via CNet