back to article Smartphones are ludicrously under-used, so steal their brains

It looked a lot like a tall drink can. Out of a lens at the top, a beam of green laser light shone onto a reusable takeaway coffee cup, slowing working its way across it, scanning. That light came from the Eora3D, a portable 3D scanner that got me asking a few questions. How accurate is it? The model will have features down …

  1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Love the gadgets but...

    I don't see the use-case for bring-your-own-supercomputer-appliances. If I drop my smartphone in the cradle on the washing machine, I have to wait until my shirts are clean before I can cook my dinner and listen to some music?

    The option of upgrading my stereo by giving it last-year's smartphone is attractive, but I can't imagine manufacturers giving up build-in obsolescence easily (yes, the cradle is an industry-standard, but you can't use new feature X without upgrading this bit).

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Love the gadgets but...

      I don't know why a washing machine would need a cradle to drop the phone into. It should just talk Bluetooth to the phone, then the phone could multi-task across several appliances.

      The idea of a smartphone power being more fully utilised has been explored already, notably Motorola with the lapdock. Effectively a laptop housing and screen without a computer inside until you plug in the phone. It didn't really catch on, but modern phones could do 90% of PC tasks, so it would be worth revisiting with a decent handset.

      On the question of phones being under-utilised because people just post to facebook, take photos and send messages on them. This is absolutely right. But some those people are still choosing phones based on Top-Trumps hardware specifications and will dismiss phones that don't have the fastest clock speed and most processor cores. Truly much cheaper phones would be enough and the money they save they could spend on having a life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Love the gadgets but...

        "Truly much cheaper phones would be enough and the money they save they could spend on having a life."

        Difference between a so-so handset and a top of the line model is (shopping around) ten to fifteen quid a month. So "having a life" with a cheapo phone would seem to be an extra pint of beer (pub prices) a week, or a fancy coffee a week.

        Call me old fashioned, but that's not really going to alter my quality of life to a noticeable extent. What about you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Love the gadgets but...

          "call me old fashioned"

          I don’t think you are old fashioned. I would say you are a marketing man’s dream.

          First you seem to be referring to a contract (which is top loaded right off the bat) then you couch the difference in terms of 'loose change' disposable income. £120 -£180 per year has a different ring to it; it would pay for a short break.

          Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing you for that view. ‘Old fashioned’ tends to have a different take on the value of money.

          1. Roq D. Kasba

            Re: Love the gadgets but...

            It's changing, but time was when you could get a better deal on contract than sim only, the handset would be subsidised, not overloaded. Now I go sim only and off-brand handsets can do great things for cheap, and when they inevitably fail, simply replace. Glory of Android means the phone more or less sets itself up with my contacts, browser passwords, etc. My phones work hard for me ;)

            1. BrightSpark

              Re: Love the gadgets but...

              Just bought a Windows Lumia 435 - £20 - Seriously, say what you like about Windows phone but really this costs less than my wifes iphone monthly contract.I wanted offline maps and navigation with a bit of email and Spotify and thats it. I know I'm not the target market for the latest whizz bang product and Im not Snap Chatting or checking my Face book profile every 30s. But you're absolutely right, work out what you actually want from the device and then get that one that fits. If your're the kind of person that wants the thinnest/latest/fastest etc then great, fill your boots, but there are bargains out there.

        2. Phuq Witt
          Trollface

          Re: Love the gadgets but...

          Also, don't forget that interface bloat expands to fill the available processor cycles.

          Most phones need supercomputing powers these days, just to handle the pointless parallaxes, blurs and transitions used when swiping around the interface.

          And then of course there's the processing power needed to handle the equally pointless ultra high definition video and tens of megapixels photographs, coming in through that pinhole sized toy plastic camera lens.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Love the gadgets but...

        I've spent a (very) little money on a cradle for my phone, a mini HDMI to VGA adapter and a 1 > 4 way micro USB to USB female charging/OTG adapter. That means a very old monitor, keyboard and mouse available to me when I want to fire up Citrix to the office or edit a document.

        I am the sort of grumpy old techie who may try adding a Hercules emulator to that mix.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Love the gadgets but...

        "

        I don't know why a washing machine would need a cradle to drop the phone into. It should just talk Bluetooth to the phone, then the phone could multi-task across several appliances.

        "

        If you live in a single cupboard-sized flat such as I see advertised in London for ridiculous prices, you'd be correct. Bluetooth has a guaranteed range of 10m, (less through walls and floors), and so your suggestion would not work for a person who has a laundry room in the basement and a lounge that is 20m from the kitchen.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker? Would it really give me any benefit? Car, well possibly provided it isn't for anything to do with the running or safety of the car.

    I do, however, think there's a valid point in the overall article. One of the problems though is that the electronics have become so cheap now that I suspect the mechanics of docking all these different phones are more expensive than actually providing dedicated compute power (and that's assuming there's any standard for the interfacing and docking anyway).

    1. Zimmer

      ....steal their screens...

      " I suspect the mechanics of docking all these different phones are more expensive than actually providing dedicated compute power (and that's assuming there's any standard for the interfacing and docking anyway)."........

      Well, that's the excuse Line 6 trot out when users of their kit, that interfaces with iPads and iPhones, will not work with Linux etc.. but you have to admit it is probably cheaper for them to build an amplifier or effects pedal that will interface with an "i" product so that they do not have to build in a screen and graphics processing power, even if it means only those WITH and "i" device will buy it..

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > Car, well possibly provided it isn't for anything to do with the running or safety of the car.

      It couldn't - drivetrain (all things to do with engine, steering and brakes) are on a different frequency on the car's network to infotainment, electric windows, aircon etc.

      Yo're right, though: Apple's idea is to dock a phone and use it to power a display. Google's Android answer is to just embed an Android device in the car.

      An analogy is Microsoft's "Make your phone a PC, your tablet is a laptop!" approach, whereas Apple use software to make the transition from phone to laptop more continuous.

    3. scrubber
      Go

      "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

      Because you're a bloke and you want your clothes washed properly and your food not burnt.

      Your phone can take a bar scan/picture of your food and set your oven to cook it properly (and switch it off for those post-pub meals!), likewise with your washing, and also warn you if you're lumping a red in with your whites. It can protect your silks (polyester sports top more likely) from the harshness of a cotton wash, or decide that the amount of dirt requires a daily wash rather than a full cycle. It can deicide exactly how much water and detergent to use so that you simply load up a lot in the storage area, and don't worry about how much to add for each wash. Same for dishwashers.

      This idea has legs, but as it's in the house, never mind cradles or BT, get everything on the WAN. Your oven is also a fridge, so you put your food in there in the morning/night before and your phone knows when you are leaving, traffic conditions etc. so sets the meal to be ready 15 mins after you arrive (keeping it warm if you're late) so you have just enough time to crack open a beer before your phone alerts you that your dinner's in the oven. Your phone learns your wash cycle and warns you if your 5-a-side kit needs washing before the big game, or you're running out of clean shirts for work. If it could only do the ironing I think there might be some divorces in the offing.

      1. Doctor_Wibble
        Angel

        Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

        > This idea has legs, but as it's in the house, never mind cradles or BT, get everything on the WAN.

        If your house is big enough to have a WAN instead of a LAN like wot us peasants have then you don't need any technology because one has butlers and housemaids to that sort of stuff for one, innit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

        "Because you're a bloke and you want your clothes washed properly and your food not burnt."

        Speak for yourself - some of us are more than capable...

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

          "Speak for yourself - some of us are more than capable…"

          Seconded, and that sports top these days needs to be washed without fabric softener long before it needs a delicate cycle. The technical sweat wicking ability of it is all in the weave and fabric softeners rearrange the weave and destroy the wicking. If you have been washing your sports tops or any modern sport/exercise gear in with everything else you have probably munged it all.

          I co-opted the 'whites' partition in the washing basket for running gear and my technical under shirts and polos so they get washed together using the non softener detergent. A machine that might flag up a t-shirt in the general wash might be useful mind. Such things do happen on occasion, sadly.

          One day, hopefully soon, they will sort out hard wearing, smart, technical trousers then I can pretty much stop wearing cotton.

      3. Phuq Witt
        Facepalm

        Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

        "...Your phone can take a bar scan/picture of your food and set your oven to cook it properly (and switch it off for those post-pub meals!), likewise with your washing, and also warn you if you're lumping a red in with your whites. It can protect your silks (polyester sports top more likely) from the harshness of a cotton wash, or decide that the amount of dirt requires a daily wash rather than a full cycle. It can deicide exactly how much water and detergent to use so that you simply load up a lot in the storage area, and don't worry about how much to add for each wash. Same for dishwashers..."

        Sounds great! Extend that to every gadget inside and outside my house and soon I'll never have to think for myself, or work anything out myself, ever again.

        How long before 'smart everything' technology and evolution reduces the human brain to an optional extra like the appendix?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

          Once you've made your dishwasher or microwave smart enough to communicate with your phone, added bluetooth or wifi, etc. you could have spent that money just making it able to do what the phone is doing for it. It isn't like it is that hard to tell when something is cooked through, the reason only the high end microwaves do is because it costs money to add that feature. How much computational power could it possibly require to "help" a dishwasher with its task? What happens if you start up the dishwasher and leave, with your phone. Is the dishwasher helpless, and can only wash dishes when you're home? Yeah, that's not what I want...

          1. lambda_beta
            Linux

            Re: "Why would I want my phone connected to the washing machine or cooker?"

            Now what if your 'smart' phone ends up in the washing machine, will it be 'smart' enough to shut off the washing machine and let you know you've screwed up? Or will you have to wait for the rinse cycle to find out?

  4. tony2heads
    Coat

    'Right under our noses'

    I keep my phone in a pocket

    1. Annihilator
      Coat

      Re: 'Right under our noses'

      And is that pocket *above* your nose?..

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >Low-end 3D printers already cut costs by offloading the workload to a connected computer. With a smartphone cradled into it, that same 3D printer becomes cheaper, smarter, more connected, and much more programmable.

    Many current 3D printers don't need to be very brainy; they are just following orders in the form of G-code. What would be a step forward would be if the 3D printer used stereoscopic cameras or a laser or whatever to be aware of what it is actually primting, and thus correct any errors that have crept into the build. This would make the printer much easier to use for the user.

  6. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Meh

    Not really seeing the cheap computing forest for the smartphone trees. The lesson isn't that we have a supercomputer in our pockets - the lesson is supercomputers are so cheap they can be embedded anywhere.

    Interfacing with your phone only really makes sense when there is a portability angle involved.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Meh

      Or perhaps that a micro-controller is enough to process a couple of different buttons. Far cheaper than a micro-processor, less likely to go wrong and a tiny fraction of the cost of the engineering involved to make a clothes-washer last five years.

    2. John Sturdy
      Boffin

      Re: Meh

      Yes, powerful phones have helped make such computing power a commodity, and the same technology might as well be embedded in the devices. But interfacing with the phone identifies you to the embedded technology, and gives it your profile / preferences / settings.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        How many washing machine programs does a person usually use? My washing machine remembers my preferences by virtue of the program knob being in the same place as where I left it from last time.

        Do I sense a certain amount of a solution looking for a problem?

        1. fruitoftheloon
          Pint

          @Simon Harris: Re: Meh

          Simon,

          quite, our whizzy [black]goods washing machine has umpteen programs, of which we use in descending order:

          - mixed

          - cottons

          - delicates

          Have one on me, I was wondering if I were the only one that views some of this whizzy-doodah intereconnectedness as pointless complexity...

          /rant

          Jay

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      the lesson is supercomputers are so cheap they can be embedded anywhere

      Exactly. An informative comparison can be made with the development of power tools.

      Once upon a time, power tools were relatively expensive, so everyone would buy a single power unit (the drill) and several attachments that could be powered from the drill. Then people realised that they were wasting a lot of time switching attachments so they started to buy self-powered tools instead. Economies of scale brought the cost of the power unit down, and that accelerated the process.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    I love utopian views

    Would that be the TV that works with iOS and Android but only 5 and above only. The car that works with Winphone 8.1, iOS, except the latest version and Android 4.2 to 4.4. The cooker that is Android only, the hifi that is iOS only and the alarm system that is Winphone only?

    The washing machine has a dial and a couple of buttons

    The hi-fi has my phone hooked up by a cable

    The TV has a remote control

    The car connects to the phone via bluetooth for all the music, phone calls and texting.

    And it all works!

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Pint

      Re: I love utopian views

      Quite - if your washing machine needs a super duper hyper computer brain then you are doing something seriously wrong and you are not safe to be living unsupervised!

      Plus you would need to do it all by wi-fi not bluetooth or your laundry will stop every time you nip out for a smoke - unless the machine is smart enough to work on its own like the old supposedly-dumb ones are, in which case what was the advantage again?

      Or this is going to be your 'key' for everything, nothing working unless your phone is nearby, to which the ultimate question of life the universe and everything: "What could possibly go wrong...?" on top of the version/vendor lock-in, drowning phone barely visible in the suds through the window...

      But the 3d scanner thingy does look cool even if I can't see a price-tag (and by logical implication cannot afford it) and don't have an iphone anyway.

      1. AbelSoul
        Trollface

        Re: I love utopian views

        to which the ultimate question of life the universe and everything: "What could possibly go wrong...?"

        To which the answer, more often than not, is Tucker's law. (NSFW)

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I love utopian views

        >But the 3d scanner thingy does look cool even if I can't see a price-tag (and by logical implication cannot afford it)

        Search Google for 'DIY 3D Scanner', and you'll find a few solutions, though will probably involve a bit of faff. Some just use a turntable and a line-level laser (of the sort you can buy for a few dozen £$ in hardware shops for marking horizontal lines) in conjunction with a webcam and PC.

        Of course, swapping out the PC for for pocket-sized computing device makes the whole setup more portable.

        1. Doctor_Wibble
          Coat

          Re: I love utopian views

          > Search Google for 'DIY 3D Scanner', and you'll find a few solutions,

          Better than that, I can make it all at home... for nothing! All i need is a circuit board, a couple of food processors, onions, cumin and a small aubergine...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Gah!

    Until the washing machine can sort the laundry and load itself;

    Until the cooker can take the food from the fridge and load itself;

    Until the fridge can collect the shopping, sort and load itself;

    Until the Iron can remove the clothes, spread them out and iron itself;

    Until the dishwasher can remove the plates from the table, clean of the excess and load itself;

    I HAVE NO NEED FOR THIS POINTLESS CRAP.

    Now a robot butler.....

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Gah!

      Oh great. Now I have nightmarish visions of a track-driven roomba-like iron semi-randomly crawling around a shirt trying to figure out where it ends, cleanly burning a hole through it when it gets stuck...

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Gah!

      If your idea gives a drop bear nightmares, I am not reading about it!

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft?

    Let me get this straight..

    First they tried to turn our desktop computer into phones. Everybody hated that.

    So now they want to turn our phones into desktop computers?

  11. John Tserkezis

    But smartphone resourses are already being used...

    ...With all the advertising attached to just about every app out there.

  12. DanX

    This just doesn't work out right in my opinion.

    Phones get dropped down the sink, broken, lost or stolen. The devices HAVE to work when you've not got your phone, and if you loose your phone you have to be able to repair it easily with all your devices.

    This leads to your phone - just being an interface to the devices. Either home network control centres, that can be backed up, or putting your house control center in the cloud too. This is subject to internet outages (which do happen) so local computing power is still needed.

    Full blown internet of things has to be very redundant to:

    1) Security issues.

    2) Local network failure

    3) ISP failure.

    4) User loss of device.

    5) Device failure.

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Not new

    It's not a new idea. But having one phone to control it all is as bad as having everything in the Cloud. If the phone breaks then everything is stuffed. In fact, why use the phone when everything could be a dumb device and hooked up to the Cloud? There is a reason most things have their own controllers built-in.

    The idea of using the phone's abilities to control things isn't that bad though where the use case fits. People have been hacking routers, NASs and other kit to act as controllers for a long while.

    I need a personal WiFi hotspot / captive portal which doesn't have heavy demands on it and an end of line Android phone looks set to do that job. A third of the cost of a similar Pi set-up, smaller and just as fast, no need to buy a WiFi dongle, SD card, power supply or case, battery management and UPS hardware included and it's got a reasonably good touch display, Bluetooth, camera and 3G connectivity if I ever need those. I am thinking of using another as a webcam.

  14. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Handling the driving?

    No.

    That takes massive processing power, >1TFLOP, a phone would melt.

    1. Whiskers

      Re: Handling the driving?

      That hasn't stopped the machines from trying to start a take-over; the other day a strange voice from the passenger footwell complained that "you are exceeding the speed limit". I'd shoved a tablet into a shopping bag and a navigation app was still running, and decided to try to be helpful.

      One of these days the strange voice will be saying "you are exceeding your daily pie limit" ...

      1. LaeMing Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Handling the driving?

        That was the tablet's self-presevation mode.

  15. The Original Steve

    Continuum

    Actually sounds rather interesting... Not entirely novel, but if the execution is right...

    Intrigued.

  16. Yugguy

    Smartphone uses?

    I thought a smartphone was a device to:

    a) give stupid people neck ache

    b) allow said people to transfer vast quantities of utter drivel between themselves.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If my phone can become a PC...

    ... but all I need to add is a monitor, keyboard, mouse why not use a laptop?!

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: If my phone can become a PC...

      Valid point, but in different circumstances where standardized "monitor+keyboard+mouse" shells were practically ubiquitous, the idea of only having to carry your phone around to always have access to your own laptop-like computer does have merit (even if only between home and office - I know which I'd prefer to carry, a laptop or a phone...). And that doesn't even start addressing more far-fetched use cases where projected keyboards and tightly-rollable / foldable / projected screens might give you the same thing completely integrated in a roughly phone-sized package. To be honest, the logical conclusion of "personal computing" started by the PC _is_ the piece of hardware you already carry everywhere - your phone. The rest is details...

  18. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Burnt Toast

    All I want is a toaster that pops when the bread has been toasted to a desired degree, invariant of the input conditions.

    Perhaps if phone makers could add thermal protection along with dust and waterproofing, then you could just pop your phone in the toaster alongside a slice of bread, and it would monitor conditions and tell the toaster exactly when to pop?

  19. Meerkatjie

    I can see one problem already - the cradle will need to handle different types of phone connection options. I don't see Apple changing their ways to use the same connector Android phones use and that assumes Android phones wouldn't change in the future either.

  20. chris 48
    Stop

    No no no

    Firstly the applications are very limited. WTF is your washing machine doing that requires a 64-bit, quad-core, multi GHz processor? The processing power required for the bluetooth stack necessary to talk to your phone is many times what the washing machine actually requires. As a gadget fan and lover of computing power it's easy to forget that a $5 SOC can provide more than most devices will ever possibly need.

    Secondly, this is absolutely terrible from a modularity point of view. What we want is a protocol that says

    Hello scanner, scan now.

    Hello phone, scanning

    Phone, here is your 3-d image file.

    We really really don't want every phone to need to understand the inner workings of every possible scanner. That involves some device driver horrors that surely we've moved away from now not to mention the possibility of damage when some dumb motors in the scanner follow the connected phone's instructions blindly because the scanner doesn't understand that it's about to damage itself.

    I remember the pain involved in getting old printers to work even with a computer directly connected to them with a disk from the manufacturer. That's bad. What's good is USB storage, one standard.

    Thirdly, phones are personal. I don't want to put it in my washing machine's cradle, I don't want to be unable to answer calls or play angry birds while I wait for my 3-d parts to print.

  21. Smudged

    Battery problem

    The problem is that we generally need to under-use our phones, otherwise the battery would always be flat.

  22. David Nash Silver badge

    Reminds me of...

    ...Windows-only printers that gave Linux users such trouble a few years back.

  23. Phuq Witt
    Paris Hilton

    Question Marks

    "......a portable 3D scanner that got me asking a few questions..."

    Why were the answers to the questions also questions?

    Or were you asking a young person and they were doing that annoying thing were their voice goes up at the end of each statement, making each reply also sound like a question?

    And in other news, what the fuck is it with the new fad for answering questions with "So..." ?

  24. HPCJohn

    Time of Flight

    Err... are we sure that 3D laser scanners like this work by Time of Flight?

    I thought they worked by using a structured light source - ie there is a laser beam which is scanned in a pattern. The camera looks at the distortions in this pattern and as the laser is moved up this builds up the image of the surface of the object.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured-light_3D_scanner

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: Time of Flight

      > I thought they worked by using a structured light source

      I suspect you are right - the clock on a portable device is surely not accurate enough to produce a decent scan using timing, which I think would only serve to give you something on a scale that goes from 'potato' all the way up to 'deformed rabbit'.

      1. wdmot

        Re: Time of Flight

        Indeed. Even if you were able to synchronise the processor's 1.8GHz clock (for example) with the laser pulse, the light would travel 1/6 metre in one clock cycle. Not very high resolution, that.

  25. Avatar of They
    Happy

    Comment.

    Nasa used to have the screensaver that number crunched for them, they couldn't afford the huge super computers to number crunch, but a million home PC's number crunching in the background while on screen saver enabled them to do wonders collectively.

    I can see that kind of thing being done with the phones, batteries aside a lot of phone do nowt, stucking our pockets and could be doing useful stuff (other than reporting to Google, Apple, M$ and the NSA what we do)

    Not sure I want my phone controlling my house, but I can see a large number of apps that could run off my phone and then just plug in the relevant hardware to do it.

    Someone already said though, we have OS fragmentations, as well as Hardware manufacturers wanting to protect their profit margins.

  26. joejack

    Love the idealism!

    IMO it's not the tech holding us back from this, it's the walled gardens locking you into each manufacturer's ecosystem. Would also be nice to see iOS and Android adopt USB-C.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does the compute power need to be utilized?

    This idea seems to be a holdover from the days when any processor cost hundreds of dollars, and they didn't use much more power when under load vs. when idle, so it seemed like a shame to let one go idle. Hence SETI@Home etc.

    Nowadays the processors in phones only cost a few dollars so who cares how much they're utilized, and for what? Plus, higher utilization just drains battery power, which you might want/need later.

  28. moiety

    I could originally see some upsides but:

    1) Most of the processes involved are very boring indeed, so the last thing you're going to do is commit your work/entertainment thing to it because the entire point of this automation is to get stuff done while the machines handle the boring stuff

    2) You would then live in constant fear of miscreants turning your underwear pink.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > 2) You would then live in constant fear of miscreants turning your underwear pink.

      But it's already pink!

  29. DougS Silver badge

    Phones "helping" you in the car

    So you want to sap the battery while I'm driving for a bunch of useless computation to tell me things I already know - "if you had slower starts you'd save fuel", "if you had taken this alternate route you'd use less gas because you wouldn't have to wait for those left turns", etc.

    Oh, you want me to dock my phone or put it on some sort of wireless charging pad so the battery doesn't run down? Great, so now I have to take my phone out of my pocket every time I drive, and add a dangerous projectile flying around the cabin in the event of an accident! And maybe cause me to forget it when I leave the car (though hopefully with all that fancy programming, the phone will remind you to put it back in your pocket when you shut off the ignition)

  30. halfbaked

    They also serve who stand and wait

    Call me old fashioned, but what if I receive a call or text, or need to send one while the phone is busy printing or whatever. I could dock a phone and use it as a laptop, but I tend to get up and walk around, and prefer to have the phone in my pocket, in case I need it for its primary purpose.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: They also serve who stand and wait

      > but I tend to get up and walk around, and prefer to have the phone in my pocket, in case I need it for its primary purpose.

      Oh, no; you aren't ALLOWED to use your smartphone for making/receiving phone calls.

  31. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Good article

    I was afraid it was going to suggest making the phone do, like, seti@home or something while I carry it around (which obviously would kill the battery life.) Luckily, not the case. I have to agree with others, though, I'm not going to plug my phone into the washing machine and oven -- they don't need the processing power, and I'd rather keep the phone with me.

    But, I in fact (as a test) ran a full Linux desktop -- including OpenOffice -- off a Motorola Droid 2 Global a few years back. I used the remote capability of X over the wifi, since there's no HDMI port on there. This model had a single 1ghz ARM, not the dual or quad >1ghz processors like you'd have now. Nevertheless, not only did it work it was actually snappy! These phones really do have loads of processing power.

  32. Sokolik

    Libraries in my pocket, and more

    My smartie, for me, definitely is a computer far more than a phone.

    Examples:

    No surprise: an off-line music library in my pocket. I imagine the smartie has capacity for my entire music library-- with the assistance of the SD card, I admit-- if I'd a mind to put it there. A blutooth headset crowns (pardon the pun) the arrangement and makes it perfect.

    An off-line book library in my pocket. For example, I'm planning to visit overseas soon. On my smartie are books of language references that in past visits took up most of my backpack! (Yes, I am incapable of learning the language, but that's another story).

    And with either I need not worry about network-connectivity.

    A driving navigator. Has saved my almost-lost-bacon more than once.

  33. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Wrong direction ...

    People generally don't go for appliances that do too many different things. Someone once designed a combined toaster/kettle/radio and found people were simply not interested in buying it, just as people generally prefer to have separate TV sets, DVD players, telephones and games consoles even though a PC with decent sized monitor could carry out all those functions just as well as the dedicated units (if not better).

    I believe there would be more mileage in separating functionality rather than combining them into a single unit - the exception is the mobile phone itself, but that's only because of the inconvenience of carrying around several portable devices. If it were not for that practical aspect, I am quite certain that people would prefer to have separate devices for social media & texting, general web browsing, photography, voice calls and game playing. When the devices do not need to be so portable, separate units are more desirable for most people.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong direction ...

      > ...the exception is the mobile phone itself, but that's only because of the inconvenience of carrying around several portable devices.

      You need one of those cellphones like Shirai Kuroko had in "To Aru Kagaku no Railgun"; it was about the size of a large pack of bubble gum, but had a pull-out display screen when she needed to look at online data (or perhaps pictures of her roommate, but that's a different matter).

  34. Kai Lockwood

    Do you smell something burning?

    So world+dog can drain my batter & cook my testicles without any near side benefit to me? Distributed computing over phones is a stupid idea. You'll have flat batteries and sterile men in the near future. Hooray

  35. Samuel deHuszar Allen

    People keep talking about Microsoft starting this whole run desktop apps across tablet and phone, but wasn't Ubuntu on the map first?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3PUYoa1c9M

  36. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    > everyone now carries a mighty powerful computer.

    Not me, I still use a flip-phone, non-smartphone, and am quite happy to do so. No outrageous, bend-over-and-spread-em data plans, 24-hour battery life rather than 2-hour, actually fits in a belt carry-case, etc.

  37. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Great idea

    .... because most of us smartphone users think that our batteries last too long.

  38. Picard25

    You have to watch for Hot Battery

    I have been running Boinc on my Note 4 since last November and it works perfect-running only when the screen is off.

    However 2 things to be aware of :-

    1. Battery usage rockets.

    2. Battery gets hot and can reduce its life

    Understandable when the phone is working at 1005 (ish) nearly all the time.

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