Here are two idea’s I have been thinking about for a while. They would be great additions for any phone or tablet.
Idea 1 – Dual technology displayAnyone who has used a Kindle (or similar e-ink based device) will understand the importance of the passive display principle. Passive displays do not use any power unless you are changing the page and they do not strain the eyes because they do not have a back light like most other display technologies (of course you can adjust the back light, but who does that regularly). Electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and does not have any electronic back light flicker (reflective LCD is another interesting technology that makes use of reflected light). The major disadvantage of e-ink is that it has a slow refresh rate so it does not provide a good user experience for interactive applications (using menus or scrolling) or playing video. I would like to see someone to make a dual technology display that has a transparent LCD overlay on an e-ink display. This would give the screen the low-power passive capabilities of e-ink with the high refresh rate capabilities of LCD.
Idea 2 – Personal interrotron display
Have you ever thought about why communicating over webcam doesn’t feel the same as speaking in person? A big part of the problem is that you are generally looking at the forehead of the personal you are chatting with and they are looking at your forehead. The reason for this is that you are both looking at video’s of each other on screen while your camera’s sit above your screens. Eye contact is critical for effective communication. Television networks understand this, which is why news readers use a teleprompter that projects the news script right in front of the camera lens so that the news reader can read the script and be looking right into the viewers eyes. The interrotron is like a teleprompter but was designed so that the person in front of the camera can see into the eyes of the person they are interviewing.
Apple should make an iPhone/iPad screen that has a camera behind the display so that users can remotely communicate with each other with eye contact for the first time. One screen pixel would need to be transparent about 2/3 of the way up the screen with a tiny camera placed behind it. Software would recognize the other persons eyes in the video image of them and would reposition the video image so that their eyes were centered on the camera behind the screen. That way, when you look at their eyes you would also be looking at the camera and they too would be able to look at your eyes. Of course this system would only work if both users were using devices with the interrotron technology so it would encourage viral take up of interrotron enabled devices.