back to article We're about to hit peak device count, says HTC veep, as AR takes over

The number of screens people use each day has probably peaked, according to Alvin Wang Graylin, global vice president of Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC. "Right now, there's so many screens in our lives, and the natural thinking is that we're going to keep having a lot more screens," Graylin told the Augmented World Expo (AWE) …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Not going to happen

    The only reason computing has had so much of an impact on our lives is because, for the past fifty years, there has been every reason to improve on it.

    From the room-sized behemoths that could barely calculate a square root per second, to the desktop computers that revolutionized how we work, to the Internet that revolutionized how we could learn and be informed (not always for the better), to today's computing devices that can do it all and be carried in a pocket (for certain values of pocket), computing has been on a necessary improvement curve, and with shining results.

    But, with all this tech, what hasn't changed ? Videophone. Oh, technically it has, tremendously. But nobody likes it. They didn't like it when it came out, they don't like it today, and I see no reason to think they will change their mind tomorrow.

    Why are teens (and now tweens) always typing on the screens grafted into their hands ? Because texting can be done at your rythm. You impose your little circle of privacy, respond when you feel like it. Zoom, or videophone, or even phoning, deprives you of that choice. You're talking to someone directly, you have to respond at the right moment. That is why all those texters are not actually phoning people all day.

    Having an implant in your brain, going on the theory that that will actually be one day possible and 100% reliable, means good-bye to the simple ability to ignore something for a while. You don't want to answer your phone ? Leave it on the couch, go to another room for a minute, just ignore it, the ringtone will die at some point. You don't want to answer that blinking light in your peripheral vision ? Good luck ignoring that.

    And what about sleep ? Will you be able to go airline mode and not be bothered in the night, or will you not have a choice and wake up groggy at 3 in the morning with that bloody blinking light in your peripheral vision ?

    Whatever the level of tech of this brain implant technology, I'm sure there will be people who try, and I'm sure the majority won't.

    A phone, for all its faults, is something you can turn off. Sometimes it feels good to be able to turn off.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Not going to happen

      Nobody likes videophone?

      I know a lot of people who use Facetime constantly with families and friends. I'm not a fan, but I think it is a generational thing. Millennials love it, and that along with the "grandparents talking to grandkids" means Facetime/Skype/etc 'videophone' technology is liked by a lot of people.

      I agree people substituted texting for what used to be phone calls, but you can't ignore the huge impact videophone technology has had.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Pascal Monett - Re: Not going to happen

      Recently, my nephew had a surgery to remove a tumour seated close to his brain. Three or four days after the surgery he developed a persistent, high frequency (between 7 and 15 seconds) hiccup. Doctors are still looking at the possible cause so they can fix this.

      Now who is the imbecile who believes it is a good a idea to play with the brain by inserting metal wires into it just just for fun ? It is one thing to try and correct an illness and a totally different kettle of fish to do it in order to give big tech a privileged, direct access to your brain.

      1. Catkin

        Re: @Pascal Monett - Not going to happen

        I wonder if the woman who was recently in the news for being able to again communicate using (synthesised) speech for the first time in years would share your dour assessment. Nothing was "corrected" but I would, in the same situation, jump at that opportunity.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: @Pascal Monett - Not going to happen

          However, that case was clearly related to an illness, not a new way of checking the internet. Brain surgery for medical reasons makes sense, although I think many would be wary about the risks, but brain surgery for anything else is not a great idea. If someone dies because they were a test subject for fixing nerve damage that led to paralysis, we'd understand that the risks were worth it and they would hopefully agree as they'd know about the risks. If someone dies because they were a test for a chip that can play video inside your head so you don't need a screen, then I don't think we would be in favor so much. The high risk of something like that means that we will probably not want, and companies will not want to, do research into brain-embedded consumer electronics. I think futurists know this but like to pretend otherwise since the idea of a flawless computer implant like that could be cool if they don't think too much, and not thinking is one of their specialities, right along with copying from science fiction authors who actually considered possible consequences.

          1. Catkin

            Re: @Pascal Monett - Not going to happen

            This may be a rather utilitarian but if an otherwise healthy individual, fully understanding the dangers, wants to risk their health and even their life in order to watch videos without a screen, I say let them. I definitely wouldn't do it in the foreseeable future but there's plenty of medical breakthroughs that were achieved off the back of self-experimentation. I'm not proposing the average person should randomly insert wires into their skull but, as long as it's reasonably supported by research. Any successes would mean a leap forwards in vision restoration for the blind and partially sighted, when the best we can currently do is a tiny array of binary points.

  2. nematoad Silver badge

    I needed a good laugh.

    "What we're going to find is that by having a device on your head,"

    I read that and laughed out loud. Everybody wandering around hooked up to a visor?

    Let's leave that to films like Ready Player One and enjoy reality. It is as James Halliday says the only place to get a decent meal.

    Seriously, I have enough trouble avoiding 'phone zombies wandering around with their gaze stuck to their 'phones' screen without having people loose on the street who are not really aware of what's going on around them. That, coupled with "self driving cars", seems like a recipe for disaster.

    It's all self-interest and marketing. Like their visors it's not anchored in the real world.

    And don't get me started on brain implants. I can see the governments of the world salivating at the prospect. Why bother spying on people when their implants are doing the job for you?

    1. The Central Scrutinizer

      Re: I needed a good laugh.

      All the talk about self driving cars is rubbish anyway. They were invented ages ago.

      They're called taxis.

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Battery life

    I don't think we'll see these sci-fi visions coming any time soon, but if they want them, the first problem will be making them last more than an hour or two before the battery dies. This is a problem people who want to look into the future don't often bother with, because the battery is one of the least fashionable parts of a device. Yet, it's going to prevent people from adopting lots of technology as a daily tool because they don't want to be tethered to a wall. Some hardware can get away with battery life like that. If people put this on to play a game and then take it off and do something else, it doesn't have to last all day. If people are going to take it with them, they'll want some reason to believe that it won't be dead when they turn it on.

    That's far from the only problem. Just talking about technical limitations, there is the size and weight problem which doesn't work that well with the battery problem, the getting sufficient data in and out problem, and the interface problem of how you interact with the stuff that's being displayed in front of you. The latter will also be tricky, because people don't want to use voice commands for everything and I'm guessing waving your hands to mimic interacting with objects you can't feel is not going to prove any more popular. I get why these analysts haven't thought of the even more plentiful reasons why people won't have anything useful to do with the devices, but you'd think they could at least consider the obvious technical limitations.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Battery life

      Easy. Fit a rechargeable battery and some sort of impulse recharging system in the calves and wrists and people can use it all day, every day. It will improve the health of nations as people are forced to do their 50,000 steps a day if they want to go online, and there will be no chance of it losing power just before the money shot.

      Which led me to wonder what Captain Cyborg, Kevin Warwick, self-appointed test-bed for bio-engineering, is doing now? I haven't heard mention of him for a while now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Battery life

        Kevin Warwick must have issued a press release a few weeks ago as there was a sudden flurry of "meet the man who has been a cyborg for 25 years" articles in places like the Sun and the Daily Mail.

  4. trevorde Silver badge

    Alternate headline

    VR/AR/XR/Metaverse is the future! Again.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Alternate headline

      You mean... "second life"....

      (yeah, for those who don't even have a 'first' life)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @trevorde - Re: Alternate headline

      If you don't succeed the first time, keep trying. It's like the kitchen appliances with large touch screens. Nobody asked for them, nobody wants them but they still show up.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I think the bowl of Petunias had it right.

  6. /\/\j17

    I'll be first in the queue to sign up for this, to use while I'm in my flying car...

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Failin' Graylin

    "more and more of those screens are going to be replaced by that device on your face".

    Add HTC to the list of forthcoming failures then, whilst laughing at deviceface.

  8. Watashi

    Single point of failure

    I'm now imagining having to replace my year-old non-Apple headset because Apple TV+ stops working on it due to reasons. It's bad enough maintaining compatibility between devices and apps / software / other hardware - creating a single point of failure would be a really dumb move.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Watashi - Re: Single point of failure

      Who cares as long as someone is making money out of it. You know those words about suckers being born every second, don't you ?

  9. Filippo Silver badge

    >He described next-gen XR products as thin and light

    Oh, great. The solution is getting better and better. A shame it's still looking for a problem, though.

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