Large computers – small computers – no computers?

Our computers are getting smaller and smaller. I lately observed a discussion where people discussed whether they still needed a notebook or tablet because their phone was all they needed for their digital life.

I think this is really interesting. When I started with computers, they were heavy machines split up into tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse. And it stayed for this a long time. Later, notebooks entered the market. They were also quite heavy, but the best thing you could get to take notes during lectures and for the programming exams.

Then, tablets and phones got more powerful and allowed a lot of uses. I actually wrote this text on a tablet. So the interesting question for me is also: what will be next?

We see the trend of smartwatches as well as smart glasses. These devices make computers even smaller and substitute gadgets people were using before. I also see the trend of wireless headphones going into the same direction: computers just crawl into other everyday items and then this might be enough. I do not see many people just using a watch, but for running or sports, people tend to leave their phones at home and just take their watch.

If I can pay with my watch, listen to music and do some phone calls or texting, this might also be enough for some people and they will leave the phone at home when they go out. I think the main selling point of smart glasses is also this: substitute the gadgets you have by one gadget you anyway need.

We also see the rise of personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. With these, computers are becoming a more integrated part of our houses, we just talk to them. If you think about smart-home, this is the basic idea: your home becomes a computer, but you do not really recognize it. You do not need a touchscreen or keyboard to interact with them, just your voice.

I am wondering if people using these devices see them as “computers” or rather something else. So maybe at the end, there will be everywhere around us computers, but we do not see them as computers.