Finland team's collaborative device could spark farewell to PCs

Finland team’s collaborative device could spark farewell to PCs

Think of PC as standing for an innovative pocket computer not personal computer. This is a made-in-Finland computing rethink called Solu, now up on Kickstarter seeking funds.

It's a tiny box, made out of wood, that serves as a pocket computer which you can use independently but it can also be connected up to a screen at the office, becoming your full blown desktop computer. Softpedia's Marius Nestor said they are using a Linux kernel based operating system, the SoluOS.

North America technology reporter for the BBC, Dave Lee, reported on this attempt from Helsinki-based Solu Machines to reinvent the PC.

Computing power is packed into the small touchscreen device. "It can be hooked up to a bigger display at which point the handheld device is used as a controller. Various gestures - swiping, tapping, pinching - are used to control what happens on the bigger screen," said Lee.

Typical folders become a thing of the past. The Solu software does away with many of the conventions we're used to in home computing. Taking the place of folders is an interface that Lee said "looks like a mind map."

Projects and ideas are grouped in orbs and clusters. The team decided to design it that way to create better focus. Forget about emailing documents back and forth. The system has been designed around social networking and collaboration. Solu uses cloud computing to help people work together on documents. Content is automatically stored in a multi-GB local cache of the Solu cloud.

Nestor provided a concise list of the tech specs. These include: NVIDIA 4-Plus-1 Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU running at 2.3Ghz, NVIDIA Kepler GPU with 192 NVIDIA CUDA cores, 4GB LPDDR3 RAM, 32GB cache capacity, 1440x1440 with 450ppi display, USB Type C port, 1200mAh battery, s Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-band 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) connectivity.

Finland team’s collaborative device could spark farewell to PCs

What's the price for all this? They are to adopt a business model where customers pay for the software as a monthly subscription. Their current plan is such that the monthly fee would be about $22 to $23). Developers will get a slice of that fee if their program is used. Lee said, "Think Spotify, but for software."

The team on their campaign page described the model as computer-as-a-service. "For a fixed monthly fee, you, as a Solu user, get all the storage and apps you need, without any annoying in-app purchases or advertisements."

As for the Kickstarter price listing, the computer device Solu and charger costs about $398 and includes a three-month subscription. Estimated delivery is May 2016.

Finland team’s collaborative device could spark farewell to PCs

Not everyone thinks the cloud-linked Solu is to change the personal computing landscape overnight. Lee said, "The software subscription service is nice, but there's no word on whether major developers actually want to do business on Solu's terms."

Dmitri Sarle in ArcticStartup, a technology blog, remarked: "To make it happen is a huge task and although we loved the initial demo, it is still difficult to imagine how exactly they will be able to pull it off. After all, they are going after the biggest companies in the world with a minuscule budget in comparison. Not only that, but we already have most of our data on the other platforms and switching might be difficult. They need to shift mindsets and that is not an easy task."

Nonetheless, Kristoffer Lawson, CEO and founder, has no illusions of instant acceptance for the concept. "There will be people who will resist Solu; there will be people who disagree with what we are doing."

They have a $189,658 showing of pledges at the time of this writing with 22 days to go. Their goal: $227,812.

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User comments

Oct 23, 2015
>Cloud based memory storage.
Cloud services are in almost all cases datamining and surveillance conglomerates.

No serious scientist or engineer who is intelligent enough to care about privacy will buy this.

Oct 23, 2015
I also think the cloud is an invention of those who want easy access to what we are doing. I learned to not trust the government after serving as Deputy Foreperson on a Federal Criminal Grand Jury for 24 months.

Oct 23, 2015
"I also think the cloud is an invention of those who want easy access to what we are doing. I learned to not trust the government after serving as Deputy Foreperson on a Federal Criminal Grand Jury for 24 months."

-More unconfirmed bullshit. But how does jury duty give you special insight into the workings of govt?

I learned not to trust braggarts who make up things to brag about.

Oct 25, 2015
Conventional computers are on their way out. UIs are mainly designed to mirror the real world, which is ridiculous considering you're in a virtual one. Folder browsers for example. I don't give a damn where my files are, only that I want to quickly locate and open it. Yet we visualize them like folders in a drawer. Most file explorers fail at this miserably. Take Microsoft Excel, the ribbon forces you to remember where everything is, instead of focusing on what you're most likely to do and how to do it. Every UI on the client side should be search-enabled. From the top level to the bottom. Enough of painting the screen with meaningless UIs that interfere with what you're doing. Pretty much all data can be represented as a graph. So focus on queries and visualization of graphs that are multi-purpose and consistent across problem domains. While the specific visualizations these fins are using may be up for debate, the spirit of what they're doing is correct and trend-setting.

Oct 25, 2015
It's hard to believe that you can displace a PC with a device that is barely a cellphone, when tablets and even laptop machines struggle to run common applications beyond the typical twitter and facebook browsing.

The problem is simply computing power per Watt. An ARM Cortex processor running on a battery just does not deliver a whole lot of FLOPS that are needed for things that PCs are used for. A typical mobile system like that is about 100 times less powerful than even a modest desktop PC.

And the idea of cloud computing doesn't absolve it from the issues because of the huge lag involved in interactive applications such as video editing, CAD, games, graphical arts, photoediting, etc. tasks that PCs are useful for.

So who is it for? People who don't need and don't use PCs? Then why market it as a replacement for one?

Oct 25, 2015
"Every UI on the client side should be search-enabled."

That's assuming you know what you're searching for. Great if you've memorized everything down to a T, but absolutely horrible if you're still discovering things or just can't be bothered because there are better things in life than learning the vocabulary of a computer program.

It becomes even more horrible when you're talking about language localized programs and operating systems, where common terms used for actions may not even translate directly, or there exists ambiguities in language.

In other words; "Why the Command Line Interface is efficient, and why in reality it isn't."

Oct 26, 2015
It's hard not to get personal about these developments but the ideas will keep coming, and it's how they do in the wild that will count. Microsoft kicked IBM's butt, Apple and Google returned the favor to Microsoft. Kodak and Blackberry were once masters of their respective universes. And so on, and so on.

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