Come As You Are – The Nirvana Smartphone

In a world of increasingly sophisticated and even pointless developments in mobile phone technology (yes I’m looking at you translucent phone) it takes more and more for mobile phone ideas to stand out. The Nirvana phone concept from Citrix, whilst not exactly new, does manage to do this by taking some of the more interesting possibilities of advancements in mobile phone technology and marry them to solid real world usage scenarios.

The Nirvana smartphone, which is still at the concept stage at the moment, harnesses the raw power of the modern smartphone, plugs it into an external monitor, keyboard and mouse and allows the user to experience the joys of low powered net-top computing without having to shell out for an additional net-top.

As a smartphone owner, I love the combination of power and portability that they provide and the ability to scale this up to a desktop experience at certain locations – when hot-desking, in a cafe or at a hotel is appealing. The increase in the number of people working in the cloud using remote desktops, web applications, and the possibilities opened up be emerging web technologies such as HTML5 means thin-client style processor-lite computing is set to challenge the bigger, faster, better! paradigm that has dominated computing up until now.

The current crop of smart phones all have the processing power to be extended into low powered computers and with the next generation already looming around the corner processing power is no longer a major hurdle.

However, a few small things need to be take care of to make the Nirvana phone a reality instead of a tantalisingly close dream. Video out needs work – I wouldn’t really want to work on anything less than 1024*768 and HD out would be ideal. Both current models of Nokia N95 and iPhone have video out – but not at a high enough resolution to be helpful for prolonged work.

Keyboard and mouse support is also a must. Bluetooth is clearly an option. Bluetooth connectivity is possibly on some existing smartphones, and even iPhones if you are willing and able to jailbreak and install the BT stack (which took me well over an hour last time I tried).

A Nirvana docking station, similar to the iPad keyboard accessory, that charges the phone whilst it is on the go and connects to the a mouse and monitor would be ideal – especially if phone companies could put their collective differences aside and settle on a standardised interface. A wireless interface for docking – ala Powerstone charging devices would also be great but pushes the device back into the realms of vapourware.

The Citirix blog throws out a couple of interesting usage scenarios beyond the regular roadwarrior in a café ideas that sprung to my mind (I’m writing this in a café so my imagination is limited.) These usage scenarios include being able to dock your phone to a TV, which would enable simple yet powerful web connectivity, media viewing and video conferencing.

Whilst still a dream at the moment, the good people at Citirix have provided this video to highlight some of the possibilities available.