You may recall me blogging the ‘Next-Gen PC’ competition last year, aimed at getting people to think outside of the (beige/black/silver) box for computer design. Well, the winners have been announced, and the amazing Napkin PC is the winner. It uses the metaphor of a paper napkin (“great ideas often start on a napkin…”), which is the US cultural equivalent of our “back of the envelope”. The blurb says “The Napkin PC is a multi-user, multi-interface, modular computer designed for creative professionals to collaborate and bring their greatest ideas to life.”
The design comes to life with the use of e-paper to allow you to interact with, and then retain images - imagine, you get an image/idea you like, you just pin that on the wall, and grab a new piece of e-paper to carry on.
There were 20 finalists, and all of them are on the site to browse. I think that there’s plenty of good lessons in here – from the designs and different challenges being addressed, to the professional presentation styles. For example, take a look at the 10 slides for the winning design, to see how they move from idea to concept, through to addressing specific issues such as environmental sustainability.
I was led onto thinking about how something like this could be used in education. Ever since I saw (and played with) the Microsoft Surface PC, I’ve wondered how we can use a different computer interface to more effectively share, discuss and analyse data and information. How can we make it easier for people to sit around a table and discuss issues face-to-face, without having to resort to all facing a screen or whiteboard. If the Napkin PC comes to life, then it’s definitely something I’d want at home, to sit down and work together with my children on a piece of paper, rather than leaning over a desk to point at a screen. And maybe I’ll be able to spend less time sitting staring into one.