Ever think computer company product planning sessions consist of throwing one wacky concept after another against the wall to see what sticks? Not much does and sure enough, the ash heap of tech history is littered with flubs, flops and FUBAR fiascos designed to fly high but destined to fail. Every so often, though, a diamond emerges from the dung heap and everything changes – the cliched “paradigm shift”. Here are 15 of the coolest, craziest computer concepts you’ll see today; diamonds in the rough perhaps but easy on the eye fer shure!
SheevaPlug Shrinks Like A Frightened Turtle
The tiny SheevaPlug is a marvel to behold – and it’s only natural that it’s made by Marvell. Looking more like an oversized electrical plug than a computer, the so-called Wall Wart is designed to deliver “high-performance, always on, always connected, and environmentally friendly computing.” You
won’t find an optical drive or the usual accoutrements of home computers on the SheevaPlug, however – peripherals including storage connect to an embedded 1.2GHz ARM CPU through an integrated USB 2.0 port. Good things DO come in small packages, it seems!
Apple’s Open & Shut Case
The MacBook Touch is awesome enough as it is but that isn’t stopping Jobs’ jobbers from making a good thing better. Witness this concept MacBook that employs one of Apple’s more interesting patents: a transparent, multitouch display that acts as a control surface on both sides! Today we have to open our laptops/notebooks/netbooks if we want to get down to business. Tomorrow, maybe not – and that would be very good business indeed.
VAIO Zoom! Biff Bang Pow!
Thin is in, to the point where you can barely see the screen from the side. This SONY VAIO Zoom notebook concept by Eno Setiawan takes things one step further: you can barely see the screen from the front – at least, when the power’s off. The secret lies in holographic technology that even extends to the mouse buttons. So, is a transparent laptop screen a good idea? Oh yeah… just keep it away from Kramer.
Toshiba’s Desktop Deathstar
(image via: Ubergizmo)
Lord Vader, your server is ready. This Deathstar-like desktop media server crystallizes Toshiba’s vision of how TV and cellphones will interact in a seamless multimedia future.
(image via: Ubergizmo)
Everything’s automatic: once the cellphone is in range, the server prompts it to download its media files to the server which in turn “beams” the files to a wireless HD 1080p TV – and then destroys Alderan.
O Good, A Dell Concept!
(image via: Tuvie)
Owners demand a lot from their computers, but do they want sustainability? Dell thinks so, and they’ve rolled out the well-rounded O Project PC to prove it. Luis Luna’s organic design features an integrated living plant pod that absorbs CO2 during the course of its daily life. When the PC’s life has ended, the cornstarch & bamboo polymer-based case can either be recycled or used as a non-computing plant pot to add a dash of tech savvy to your home decor scheme.
Russian To The Future With KOOB+
Slim, lightweight, compact, modular… all of the above apply to Artem Sazonov’s KOOB+” concept computer. Sazonov has taken the idea of modularity to the max – one or more KOOB+ component can be taken elsewhere and plugged into a different machine as needed. If you like plug & play functionality, you’ll love the KOOB+.
iMac Stays Ahead Of The Curve
Nuno Teixeira really knows his way a round computers, making him a natural choice to design the iView iMac concept. The intriguing iView is curved to complement the human eye and features a second screen on the back – presumably for those with eyes in back of their heads. Twin webcams pay tribute to the persistence of memory as this somewhat surrealistic concept computer owes much to Dali’s famed fluid forms.
Less Is More… More Or Less
I’d like to say HP’s minimalist LiM concept desktop computer was designed by Les Moore but that would be too perfect – it’s actually the brainchild of Jeffrey S. Engelhardt, a guy who believes desktop computers have a future in an increasingly mobile, server-oriented world. Even so, by offering “Less Is More” to tomorrow’s tech-savvy savants HP hopes to retain a lucrative slice of the retail pie. Though the LIM is a stand-alone CPU, HP foresees offering some cool matching peripherals like a transparent 19″ OLED touchscreen, a wireless keyboard and a virtual trackpad to replace the mouse.
Microsoft’s Mystery Machine
(image via: IFOCOS)
Not much info’s out there on the above ultra-wrapped screen but supposedly it’s a concept computer from Microsoft. Considering the thickness of the screen we’ll assume the computer-y bits are housed inside.
(image via: Geeksugar)
There are already curved screens out there, notably by Alienware (above), but this one both out-curves and out-cools it by a long shot. Let’s hope this screen-comp-combo surfaces soon… and, has as little relationship as possible with Microsoft Surface.
Cario Up The Highway
What’s the worst place to mount a notebook computer screen? If you guessed “smack dab in the middle of your steering wheel”, you get two points and a full body cast. Even when connected in HUD mode this seems like a poorly thought out idea. The Cario itself, on the other hand, is exceedingly well thought out. Designed for use in cars and trucks, the Cario allows you to adjust vehicle settings like climate control and music besides any other standard computing. If it can be made to work safely, you win, if not, Darwin does.
The BMW Of Computers
Coming from an outfit named BMW Group Designworks USA, you’d expect the dials to be turned to 11 when it came to designing a true gamer’s gaming computer. And so it is – the “Level 10″ PC tower concept for Thermaltake.
(image via: BMW DesignWorks)
A massive vertical heatsink, individually enclosed components and not a stray wire to be seen… one wonders why they didn’t call it the “Level 11″.
The Power Flower Tower
(image via: ECOfriend)
A minimalist computer powered by a fuel cell? We’ve got one for you – or rather, somebody would if this concept goes into production. One of the top five finalists in the Design ReGeneration competition, the Power Flower features a miniature fuel cell hidden atop a clear water reservoir, giving the design a light, aesthetically pleasing look that doesn’t resemble any computer you’ve seen before.
The New Mac Mini?
(image via: Tech2Reviews)
This inorganic Apple concept computer was designed by Sait Alanyali, who seems to have fallen in love with his straight edge. Alanyali’s put a lot of thought into the design, which provides functionality in a variety of positions. Temperature is, as with any smaller computer, a paramount concern. In Alanyali’s words, “Cool air to the sides, hot air from the legs.” Always a safe policy in any circumstance.
Cookbook Meets Computer
Niche markets will be the focus of specialized computers as tech components get cheaper and the public acclimatizes itself to anything and everything being somehow computerized. Example: the Kitchen Sync computer concept.
Designed by Noah Balmer and winner of an International Housewares Association award, the Kitchen Sync seamlessly combines the functions of a comp and a cookbook. Those who’ve accidentally spilled chicken stock all over their pricey laptop will lap this right up!
The Poop On The E-Ball
It’s not often a concept design leaves me speechless but this is one of those times. I give you… the E-Ball! Somewhat reminiscent of a roly-poly R2D2, the E-Ball is undeniably impressive: how about a laser keyboard that beams out like ol’ R2 relaying a message from Obi-wan? Plus, who needs a monitor when you can project images onto either a nearby wall or a sheet of paper.
All very cool and futuristic… and then the whole presentation is overshadowed by spelling “sheet” with an “i” instead of the two e’s. Aw, crap.
As a geek version of Ferris Bueller might say, “Technology moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Thankfully, computer engineers won’t stop offering up their visions of future computing and for that, we may be thankful!