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Digital Versus Physical: Does RIM’s Vision of the Future Interest You?


Earlier this week RIM’s vision of the future was “leaked” out in two videos. The videos were undoubtedly in response to Microsoft’s video that showed Redmond’s latest vision of the future. The vision detailed in each video is extraordinary for two reasons: RIM thinks they have a future, but more importantly RIM thinks that a completely digital computing experience is the future.

The video opens with an employee setting his phone down on his desk, which then turns on a touchscreen in front on him and illuminates the desk space around his phone with a touch sensitive, gesture based UI. Later in the video, we see another gentleman set down his phone on his desk for a conference call. Once the phone is set down, it displays the information for his meeting on his desk. We see the new employee set down her phone on a special surface on a lunch table. The UI extends past the phone itself (because apparently the Streak 5-sized screen isn’t big enough). Later in the video we see the new employee type an email with a digital keyboard that her phone displays on her desk.  

I don’t think this vision of the future is impossible by any means, but I don’t think it’s the direction we ought to pursue. Using our phones as our main computing device has always been a dream of mine, but a completely digital world is not appealing to me. When I need to send a quick email I don’t mind typing on my Droid Incredible, especially with the stock Gingerbread keyboard. Auto correct works well enough for me to be able to send my thoughts quickly. When I want to type out a paper or something, however, I never want to use a digital keyboard. Even on a tablet, while I can use the keyboard to type, I prefer using a physical keyboard.

Even having a touchscreen as my main monitor doesn’t sound appealing to me. I always think that I’d like to have a touch screen on my netbook, but every time I’ve worked with a touch screen keyboard for any length of time I’m found myself plugging in a mouse before too long. Touch is not the be all end all way to interact with a device. It’s great for interacting with larger buttons or even some games, but for typing or drawing or hardcore gaming, I want a physical device (mouse/keyboard/controller). A purely digital device requires me to be looking down at my hands to ensure that my fingers are actually touching where I want them to. It’s not like a keyboard or game controller, where I can memorize button locations and functions through touch. A purely digital UI (especially one that can’t give haptic feedback) may allow for some memorization or common buttons, but I can’t feel my way around a digital keyboard or controller – I have to look.

I think one of the reasons why the ASUS Transformer was so popular (aside from price) was the keyboard dock. If you’re just using a tablet for media consumption then having a keyboard isn’t very important, but many people are beginning to see tablets as the netbook alternative. They have great (often better) battery life than netbooks and are increasingly able to perform more tasks that netbooks used to fulfill. Out of all of the tablets that have been released out announced, the Transformer Prime looks the most promising to me because it gives me all of the media functionality that a Galaxy Tab or Xoom has and it gives me the best productivity options. It’s not large and clunky like the Lenovo tablets, but it still has many of the expansion capabilities that I’d want in a netbook.

Another example of someone actually using the phone for more is the ASUS Padfone. This isn’t necessarily my favorite implementation of the idea, but the idea of putting your phone into a tablet is pretty cool. A better implementation of this (that is much closer to RIM’s vision) is Apple’s Airplay, which allows iPhone 4S and iPad 2 users to display whatever their device is showing on any TV connected to Apple TV. We’re only beginning to see how this could transform mobile computing with games like Real Racing 2 HD, but imagine connecting your phone to Google TV and being able to use a wireless keyboard and mouse to work on a presentation or watch a movie. [email protected] is definitely a step in the direction of using your phone for more as well. Instead of having multiple devices for multiple activities, you could run everything from one device.

RIM’s vision of the future may not be perfect and I have extreme doubts that it will be developed by them, but it does remind us that for all of our advances in technology, things could still get better. I don’t think a purely digital UI is the best implementation of that future, but I do think using our phones as our main device is not that far away.

What do you think? Do you dream of having only one device to use, or do you like having multiple devices for different activities? What do you think of RIM’s vision of the future? Do you want to see Google doing more with Google TV and [email protected]?

  • This is a great post – thanks – I’d like to get my hands on some of this stuff!

  • John Mozelewski

    i never want my main keyboard to be touchscreen

  • Anonymous


  • When did digital and virtual become synonymous?

  • Anonymous

    a future without bezels??? not bad

  • Anonymous

    Fingerprints…all I was thinking about was fingerprints on the screens.. LOL

  • Anonymous
  • Ytram

    So RIM’s strategy continues to be to cater to government and IT control freaks.  Here’s a hint, your business can’t exist solely on the government, and most IT folks are going to like the openness of the Android platform or the cohesive ecosystem of Apple.  Your strategy is outdated and will eventually be adopted by your competitors.

  • Those phones look boring. Don’t like. Offices are boring too. Not the future I would choose.

  • Anonymous

    NFC looks like it could be a big part of the future…

  • Well let see. First Corning, Microsoft, now RIM. They all have the same intuitive idea.
    What we need if for someone to make the idea universal for all people and devices.
    Lets face that fact that we all have different tastes and needs.
    Until that is realized none of what any of those vids show will ever be possible.

  • That would certainly be an appealing workplace for me. If RIM does somehow manage to survive long enough to develop that infrastructure, they could prove to be the death of the other smartphone OS’es, at least in the business sector.

  • Anonymous

    This is interesting. I disagree though about RIM not being in the future. I still think RIM has it’s place in the digital world.

  • gblaz

    I hope the future isn’t in 360p…

  • theraskell

    It looks very similary to some of the ones posted by Microsoft. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LaVnG_BnUA

  • Anonymous

    @NoPain:disqus ….I cаn’t beleive…..My friеnd’s sister makes 96/hr оn the internet. She has been unemployed fоr 1о months but last mоnth her incоmе was 8253 USD just wоrking on the PC for a fеw hours. Go tо this wеbsite……http://alturl.com/5tt7n

  • Schruelty

    looks like the mark of the beast the one thing you need to do everything

  • In the future, guys who look like they belong to Aryan brotherhoods will be out IT professionals.

  • rikster

    this is a ploy from skynet thinking we have a future…..its from from the truth!

  • RIMs idea sounds like a knock off of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38 with their own OS

  • Mygolazo

    future very expensive, no doubt..!

  • anonypuss

    I’m the tard new guy at work holding his phone in the air to find my desk but i drop the phone and it breaks. How about someone walks me to it and brings me a gdamn coffee kthx.

  • Weebeethem

    All this “envisioning” coming from a company that can’t even put email on a released tablet!

  • Sirx

    Corning did it.

  • Anonymous

    Mavis Beacon is rolling over in her grave.

    • rikster

      omg i havent heard that name since high school!!

  • Keith Norris

    I don’t think the video was corny or wack….I do think it was a little too much. Nothing about it was convient as they were trying to potray. Just a little too much I think. However the devices didn’t look bad. What were they new i*hones and or androids? We know blackberry won’t be around to do these things.  

  • Anonymous

    I can’t even imagine how horrible it would be to have to compose an entire report or technical document on a phone keyboard – physical or software keyboard. They are great for short stuff like this comment, but like the author, I prefer “real” input devices that I can use without having to concentrate on them.

    Also, only some of the features of most websites work on cell phone browsers. For instance, this comment function does not work on my DInc stock froyo browser – it just looks like an image of a comment box, and I can tap on it all I want with no option to enter text. If I long press, it even gives me the option to save the “image.” I am having to type this using the xScope browser instead. Imagine if the only browser you had was the one on your phone. How many browsers on how many phones can a website developer support? Right now, you can always just go to a “real computer” for any sites that won’t work with your phone. A lot will have to change before I can completely give up my laptop.

  • Let me see it for real!

  • Anonymous

    What a future?!? My phone is the size of a mac-mini, my boss is spying on me, and I lost my pension because some A-hole spent 10 grand on the lunch tables. Real nice Clark…

  • Anonymous

    I dream of a fold out screen on my mobile phone and battery life of 24 hours under moderate use, and less bloatware on my phone….

  • Anonymous

    If you are going to do a video of the “Digital Future”, you should shoot it at higher than 360p!

  • Dominick DeVito

    Does RIM’s vision of the future include itself in it?


  • Anonymous

    RIM either needs to hire new leadership, like Jon Rubinstein from HP/Palm, to push out their new products and platforms quicker and better promote them, or they need to give it up and switch to Android. Their legacy is in their corporate apps, email, BBM, and their form factors, not their OS. RIM’s greatest Blackberry features could be retained on an Android device and they’d have an app market bigger than they’ve ever dreamed of having. RIM would certainly lose some of its advantages in such a switch, but at the rate their going, they’re losing their most loyal customers now. They need to do something before its too late or they’ll just be getting bought up and absorbed by someone. We see how that worked for Palm.

  • Bbha8r

    Jeez… how draconian. All decisions are being made by some gray-haired Cyborg. “May I please be allowed to install an app”? Holy crap. No thanks. I like Microsoft’s vision better. I would love to see Google’s future vision video!

  • Anonymous

    This is Really Cute. they start putting out all this futuristic stuff and expects it to pull them out of the hole their in compared to android.  this is like when in the 60’s they said wed have flying cars, lmbo where are the flying cars that everyone has in the year 2000 lmbo

  • Anonymous

    I like the vision they have, though it think it’s woefully far off.

  • Perhaps RIM should stop envisioning the future and actually make one.

  • Jnmigr

    Copy of A day of glass video, from corning?

    • Anonymous

      : Corning had a better version I think.

  • Mr. English

    Stepford goes corporate.

  • Microsoft’s is much better.

  • Anthony Armando

    “Even having a touchscreen as my main monitor doesn’t sound appealing to me. I always think that I’d like to have a touch screen on my netbook, but every time I’ve worked with a touch screen keyboard for any length of time I’m found myself plugging in a mouse before too long. Touch is not the be all end all way to interact with a device.”

    i have a touchscreen tablet/laptop convertible (hp touchsmart tm2 1100) and i have to agree. i use touch when i am reading/lurking or interacting with GUIs and dont anticipate typing, when giving presentations, or when im out in the field and need to look at stuff. i have found very few windows games that i can get to work well with the touch input unfortunately.

    i feel that a touchscreen should be a compliment to traditional input methods just as voice interaction is.

  • KC

    What does this show?  Maybe, it shows us that in the future RIM will still have crappy resolution and graphics on crappy looking devices?  Since all of the technology in the video (e.g., table screen) has already long been the subject of white papers, designs, and patents by others, maybe the video further shows us how they will again be last-to-market in “future” technology.

  • Anonymous

    But RIM isn’t advocating a completely digital future. The people in the video use physical objects: monitors, desks, tables, phones, etc. These objects may run digitized processes, but they remain part of the physical world. Therefore, what RIM advocates isn’t a completely digital future, but a different kind of “augmented reality” than the one we already have. In their vision of the future, the physical manifestations of technology simply look and function differently than the ones we know now. One can certainly debate whether these proposed physical and digital changes enhance the ability of people to complete the tasks for which they are designed, but, regardless, the technology retains its physical component and remains firmly rooted in a non-digital world. We should avoid dichotomizing the digital world and the non-digital world, because these aspects of reality are not fully distinct but are in fact highly entangled and integrated with each other.

    Check out Nathan Jurgenson’s and others’ insightful posts at Cyborgology (http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/) if you want to learn more about his concept of the fallacy of “digital dualism” and the more-considered perspective of “augmented reality.”

  • Anonymous

    ummm who cares what either Microsoft or RIM(job) thinks of the future. Both of them are has-beens anyway.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    I hate to say it (since it involves RIM), but I hope this is what heaven is like if it never happens here on earth as I dream of stuff like this.

  • I would rather live in Microsoft’s future, than RIM’s.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    “RIM thinks they have a future”

    comment of the week… 

    • El El Kool J

      RIM future… isn’t that like an oxymoron? lol…

    • Anonymous

      I know what theyre up to. Patent trolling. 

      This video will serve as “prior art” to gesture based interaction. RIM will live on through litigation.

  • TheRobotCow

    This would be awesome, imagine this being android 6.0

    But i really like the idea of placing your phone over certain areas and it “enlarges” your phone’s os.  This shows a really cool way nfc should be used in the future. 

  • FknTwizted

    Thats pretty pimp…. for the buisness world, what about the average consumer?

    • trumpet444

      RIM is all about the business world. That was their point

  • It would have been better if they tracked down the thief and kicked the crap out of him.

    • Amdf

      Yeah.. The device is gone for <1 minute, and they wiped it. It's 2019, and the thief would've already made plans to flash Android X on the BlackBerry – they just helped him skip the factory reset step.

  • looks alot like the corning video day of glass 

  • Matthew Merrick

    i thought this video was a fake? o_O 

  • The styling reminds me a lot of M$ Metro UI, and as far as gestures It seems to really be pulling a lot from Android and Windows Phone OS.

  • I like the digital world.  I have swype, I could comfortably type a book on my phone, and while I haven’t I have typed papers.  Anyone who is well viewed enough will member the anime Rin, in which even  clothes were virtual.  While I don’t think we will be going that far anytime I soon I do seen BB plan as a good plan, especially with the implementation of interactive holographics over the next decade and a half.  I don’t think the computer will disappear, but imagine tablets going a way.  Where your personal communication device projects a screen and keyboard, no need for tablet, or laptops, or anything.  A small device that can generate a large screen.  I don’t necessarily like the looks of the BB aesthetics, I think there are much better ways to make computers look, but yes I want to see this sort of tech implemented.

  • Anonymous

    I am very sure RIM will not be around in the future, but I could definitely see something similar coming from both Google and Apple.  The future will be pretty awesome….. and bezel free lol.  

  • RIM trying to be relevant.

    Mission Status: Fail

  • Anonymous

    After watching the video, I can see where BB is going, a unified Digital Corporate communication device and systems that works hand in hand with corporate initiatives.  I think it’s bold to press further and for BB to save the ship by advancing a total digital mobile corporate UI world.

    Now as kellex has stated not everything and everyone would like a total digital world, but I can see large enterprise companies jumping on board.  Especially since the enterprise corporations are setting on so much cash on their books, the most in recent history. RIM’s future world is definitely in their world of Corporate development, much like Microsoft. and expanding into home use. 

    I can see BB leading the way on this and then companies like Apple and Google close behind, for the non corporate experience.  Interesting, BB is indeed trying to put technology to work for them to open a new frontier.

    Hopefully to save their company.  We will see. Great post Kellex this is something we need to keep an eye on 🙂

    • I wrote it, but thanks!

      • Anonymous

        LOL, Sorry Ron, great piece and please keep us posted on this BB story and keep up the good work would love to chat more about digital mobile technology in work and play 🙂

        • Feel free to hit me up on Twitter: @ronoffringa 

  • Bionicman

    Lots of pretty, flashy graphics but am I the only one annoyed by those ahole looking actors?

  • Well the future better hurry up, the world is ending next year, after all.

  • shdowman

    “The vision detailed in each video is extraordinary for two reasons: RIM thinks they have a future”


  • Anonymous

    This stuff is cool, but if you think RIM is going to come out with something like this anytime soon, you might as well be living in 2025. 

  • Barbacoa

    These innovations brought to you by Google. Google when you want to take over the world.

  • Irrational Man

    Looking forward to the futre, when I have to get an electronic permission slip from my IT guy at work to download an app to my phone! The thief who stole the bag from the guy with the numb legs did him a favor.

  • Anonymous



    “The vision detailed in each video is extraordinary for two reasons: RIM thinks they have a future”  exactly what I was thinking. Corning’s “Day of Glass” was a much better futuristic video.

  • Anonymous

    that was about the gayest thing ive ever seen.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, this video is the future technology promo version of “The Notebook.”

  • gadgetryan

    I’ll take it!! along with all the equipment it needs to connect with!!

  • Lmrojas

    Keyboard on a tablet is a must if you plan on being productive. Asus transformer prime is a clear winner. Combination of the best of both worlds.

  • Granted

    Like I said before, whatever the hell my Demolition Man future holds, all those screens better not be the capacitive screens that go nutty fu fu when a speck of liquid touches it.

    And come damnit, how can you refer to any video on the net as “leaked”?! What you mean to say is “strategically released” to provide a beginning basis for hyping an upcoming product. Feel free to quote me you silly bastard.

  • Ray

    those are all cool i just dont think BB phones will be around to do any of those things

    • WAldenIV

      Agreed.  If RIM were being totally honest, their version of the future wouldn’t include RIM.

  • I don’t think I particularly want my workplace to be so totally involved in my life.  And I’m with you, its call touch typing for a reason.  No way anyone is going to match my meager 100 wpm on a digital key board.


    WOW!!!! is all i can say WOW!!!! bring it RIM!

  • dkbetts

    Watch TV.  Engage.