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Things I think should exist, but have never run into - Ed's journal
Things I think should exist, but have never run into
OK, I've had a few thoughts on things I think should exist, but don't seem to.

Two mainly.

First, modular home entertainment system.

Basically, you get a 'base unit', which is essentially a PC. It has ways to connect other things to it, via USB or WLAN.
The base unit is your 'media store' and has ways of feeding it media. You might have a DVD player attached. Or perhaps a DvD jukebox. Maybe a CD player. Maybe a broadband link. Maybe a TV arial, or a VCR. Perhaps a sky box.

Then you have modular 'output nodes'. Think speakers, TFT screens, TVs, Projectors.

You have 'control nodes' where you can make twiddles remotely to your media centre. Adjust what's on where. As an extension maybe some smart logic so the DVD you were watching follows you into the kitchen, that kind of thing.

Possibly even additional storage nodes, for expansion of capacity.

All connects 'plug and play' mode integration, with a published spec/API. Via WLAN where possible, but might need 'bandwidth expansions' (e.g. wires) for intensive stuff.

Your central media centre is server, DHCP and 'master control'. Your control nodes are basically terminals. Probably Unix based embeded OS in each device, but with a 'moron proof' layer on top. Of course, allowing ultra-hardcore geeks to 'get into' it, and mess around, because it's cool.

Idea 2:
In Car HUD.
We're starting to see satnavs used widely. But they're mostly little lookdown boxes. So the idea is: Radar, Thermographic camera, + processing to show a HUD in your car. Other vehicles are tagged at 'best guess' at rate of closure, relative velocity etc. Lookdown radar at road surface warns you of adverse conditions, e.g. how wet it is, whether there is ice, road 'granularity' etc.

For bonus points, integrate with normal dashboard, showing speed, revs, temperature and radio controls.

Now, have I missed it entirely, and do these things already exist? Or is there some glaringly obvious technical constraint as to why they don't?
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naranek From: naranek Date: October 5th, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
The first of those is something it would be great to do a startup with. You'd need someone experienced in selling to the consumer electronics channel (or go for early-stage acquisition), but if you've got the contacts, I'd actually be up for doing it - I can arrange the technology.

The second is, I believe, starting to appear in some supercars. I'm not sure quite what's stopping it becoming fully cinematic, but I imagine the optics aren't quite up to proper displays yet - should be able to outline the road and so on, though.

sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Funnily enough the thought has crossed my mind. I'm not sure about the technical feasibilty, but first pass it seems it 'should be possible'.
naranek From: naranek Date: October 5th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
The technology's easy (well, OK, it's easy if you have people with clue building it, which I can probably manage). Selling it should also be possible so long as we have the right price point, but we'd need a really good sales team; people who've worked with the consumer electronics industry before and who can get people like Dabs, Pixmania, eBuyer and the high street stores to take units at a sensible price.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Price point is the really critical issue. One of the reasons I was thinking modular design - you get a 'fixed price' base unit, and then get to 'custom up' to the spec you want. If you want really funky ninja grade speakers and amplifiers etc. you get to add them into your 'system'.
naranek From: naranek Date: October 5th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely. And anything with an internet connection is going to be good for subscription/ad/store-based income - doubly so if you can market it to people who don't really care about technology and so will be willing to pay money for not having to cope with it (witness the iPod).
tenuous From: tenuous Date: October 6th, 2006 08:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I had a stab at building myself a cut-down version of #1 a year or so ago. It's pretty straightforward but the hardware costs started eating into my beer budget, so I had to call it a day.
xarrion From: xarrion Date: October 5th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've thought about stuff like that before - I think the cons are along the lines of:
-all the necessary techology exists and is (reasonably) cheap.
-I'd imagine all the patents for the above are already taken.
-If it takes off and works, the 'big boys' can force you out of the market before your prototype takes off.

But that's last is mostly paranoia on my part, I think.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 5th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
BMW M6 has a HUD for speed, revs, etc. What is going to be cool is when they combine this with 'Night Vision Assist'.
jorune From: jorune Date: October 5th, 2006 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Idea 1 the slingbox is a derivative or early model of your proposal - http://www.slingmedia.com/uk/

Idea 2 Look at the new Mercedes S Class.
warmage From: warmage Date: October 5th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think they are wonderful ideas but I would say there are indeed a glaringly obvious reasons for both ideas not being on the market yet; the reasons aren't technical, they're psychological.

1: You're still selling OTS kit into a market that prides itself on "spark." If it isn't bigger, better, badder, and more shiny, it doesn't have the same curb appeal. YMMV.

2: Most people can barely pilot their vehicles safely with the current system - especially when you add a cellphone into the mix. There has been a lot of wank about information overload when you start projecting data directly into the periphery of the driver's vision. Again, YMMV.
From: dr_wez Date: October 6th, 2006 11:27 am (UTC) (Link)
The first one is something we've all thought of, I think. The closest thing I've seen is probably the stuff that iMerge sell, though.
From: dr_wez Date: October 6th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I have vague recollections of some folks having produced little set-top-box thingies that connect back to a PC running something aking to MythTV to fetch MPEG streams to play...
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 6th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Several people have had similar ideas, this is true. Which is why I'm wondering why there _isn't_ one. And if there isn't a reason, then surely this presents an opportunity.
From: dr_wez Date: November 6th, 2006 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Historically, people have always made the specs too messy or complicated or both, so stuff just hasn't taken off. Take HAVi, for instance - how many times have you walked into a shop & bought a device because it supported HAVi?
jacks2k From: jacks2k Date: October 7th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
for idea number one.. does kind of exsist. windows XP media edition can controll stuff in your home. and if you have the xbox 360 you can controll the pc and everything through the Xbox.

Idea number 2. well satna isnt that far off from being 2 way so it will show other satnav systems near you. would take a bit of work but the best way would be to have a darken band across the top of the windscreen and down the right side and project the information onto those bands from the dashboard
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