I spent the past week touring Beijing, China – visiting Lenovo headquarters, attending the Lenovo Tech World, meeting with executives from Lenovo and eating way too much Peking Duck. Right from the start I want to disclose that Lenovo paid for my trip, but the opinions that are about to pour from my mind are my own….unless those tricky Lenovo folks slipped some mind control drug into my Peking Duck.
Ah, but I’m no dummy, I was raised on Get Smart. I caused a minor distraction and when the Lenovo employee sitting next to me looked down to see the glass I had just smashed to the ground, I switched our Peking Duck. So, I think we are all good now.
The Ultimate Trick? Make Technology Disappear
A week around Lenovo and learning about what they have planned for the future and what did I learn? They are making technology disappear….and that is a wonderful thing.
It is 2015. We are well beyond the “Feature Bloat” era of technology. Once you get outside super techy geek circles, no one really cares about processor speed, quad-core chips or the heat transfer rate of your chips. In the real world we just want our gadgets to work – almost magically. We want the technology to disappear and our gadgets to make our lives better or easier in some way.
Please watch these three videos I shot of product concepts that Lenovo unveiled at Lenovo Tech World –
Technology Only When You Need It
The three products above are perfect examples of my point. The Magic View Watch sits on your wrist, like a normal smart watch, until you need a bigger screen. Then you raise it to your eye, some super sophisticated but hidden technology makes a 17″ image appear before your eyes…almost by magic. Lower your arm and the technology disappears.
Compare this to the failed Google Glass. Google Glass put technology in your face…literally. You always had a camera and screen in front of your eyes, even though 98% of the time you don’t need it. You looked like a cyborg and it freaked other people out. The technology was front and center, not disappearing into the background and for this reason Google Glass has disappeared from the market.
The Smart Cast Phone allows you to carry around a large touch screen computer without, well, carrying around a large touch screen computer. The Smart Cast acts like a normal phone for the vast majority of your day – hiding its advanced technology. Find yourself at a bar and want to share some photos? A simple twist and suddenly you have an interactive projector.
I’ll admit it, the Think Mirror is totally freaky from a privacy stand point. A camera, connected to the internet and hidden behind a mirror in your bathroom…what could go wrong? Still, it is another great example of making technology disappear into the backdrop of our everyday life. We all look into a mirror each morning, why not make that mirror smart and allow it to enhance our health and wellness?
I Love The Concept of Concepts
Go to any large auto show and there are always concept cars. These are cars that may never get made, but they show a futuristic vision of where we could be heading. In the technology industry, concept products are mostly missing. Most companies (read Apple) are so afraid that their precious secrets will get out that they sue sites that post images of their yet to be released products.
It was so refreshing to have Lenovo showing off concepts and encouraging us to touch, use, photograph and discuss their concept products. We can now all discuss the pros and cons of Magic View or Smart Cast. Lenovo can gauge reaction and decide what tweaks might be necessary. I would love to see more tech companies showing off concept products.
As a side note, showing your concepts to the world…including your competitors is a pretty bold and confident move. It is like a pitcher screaming to a batter – “I’m throwing you a fastball and you’ll never catch up to it.” Lenovo must be so confident in their ability to make better products than their competitors, they are willing to show their hand and still win the game.
If You Like Magic, You Will Love The Next 5 Years
My overall take from my week with Lenovo is that the future looks bright for fans of magic. Forget technology for the sake of technology, we are past that. The next 5-10 years is about making the technology disappear and the magic happen. Sneakers that vibrate to tell you where to go? Sure thing. Phones that turn tables into keyboards and walls into movie theaters? Absolutely. Watches that provide another view into your world, only when you need it? Yep, it is all coming.
As technology disappears into the background, the magic around us will increase…and I can’t wait to experience it!