I heard a pretty fantastic

by francine Hardaway on April 6, 2005

I heard a pretty fantastic (as in representing a fantasy) speech yesterday at the Arizona Wireless Expo. The speaker was Franz Fink, Vice President & General Manager, Wireless & Mobile Systems Group; Freescale Semiconductor. Freescale, you may remember, was recently spun off from Motorola. He was talking about getting to seamless mobility.

Seamless mobility is the vision of the newly reconstituted Motorola: it�s the interconnection of devices between operating systems, platforms, and media. According to the Motorola web site, seamless mobility was already living and breathing at the Motorola 2004 Analysts Meeting.

“People want to stay connected to the ones they love, the information they need and the gadgets that keep their lives humming — and we’re making it possible,” said Ed Zander, chairman and chief executive officer of Motorola. “People’s connections don’t end at a doorway; they need smooth transitions from home to car to office and everywhere in between.” Ok, so that�s seamless mobility. You walk out the door with your information trailing at your heels like your golden retriever.

You know how cable cars switch from one overhead electrical source to another while they are going around San Francisco? That�s also seamless mobility.

�Motorola has the technologies that are making seamless mobility real.� It says so at http://www.motorola.com/content/0,,2738,00.html. But this is the stuff companies say to analysts, who are trained to predict (and sell) the future.

But how real IS seamless mobility? Over at the Arizona Wireless Expo Fink, (an executive from a company that was part of Motorola until less than six months ago) was saying, with apologies to Guy Kawasaki, that it would take a revolution to bring about seamless mobility, although he admitted it would occur.

Taking his cue from Kawasaki�s classic �Rules for Revolutionaries,� Fink talked about breaking down obstacles, thinking different (ly), and thinking digitally while acting analog(ically).

He carefully left out �don�t worry, be crappy,� which was Kawasaki�s way to tell his audience new products should be brought to market quickly without waiting for their perfection. Thank God. Imagine a world of seamless mobility that doesn�t quite work the way it should. Losing your information in the middle of a crowded freeway could engender more road rage than we have now.

Brings back another one of Guy�s rules: don�t make people do anything you wouldn�t do. I�m still one of the only people of my immediate acquaintance (the other one is a former Intel engineer) willing to go through life with a Bluetooth wireless earpiece on my face, connecting me constantly to my smartphone. It ain�t pretty, but it�s portable. Bob Rosenberg calls it my �borg.� It�s my primitive version of seamless mobility.

According to Fink, true seamless mobility involves the unconscious transfer of your information from a home device to your car to your workplace. In order to make the promise of seamless mobility real, you have to be able to translate data as it moves from one kind of device and connection to another. This is called �reconfigurable data flow.� Reconfigurable data flow i provides the performance and flexibility required in future seamless mobility products.

Then there must be an unbelievable amount of integration � not only among devices, but also among forms of wireless connectivity — from cellular to ultra wideband, to RF. At present, those don�t really talk to each other. So you have to expand your idea of connectivity to effortless transfer among carriers, be they digital or analog.

And there must be power without cables. So in order to make this truly useful, you have low power devices that permit you to have hundreds of hours of battery life on the mobile device, so it doesn�t have to spend the day or the night in the cradle.

If you stop to take this vision apart, it�s exceedingly complex.

What�s really cool is that, in my experience with technology, once something is imagined, as �seamless mobility� has been, it will happen. That was the big lesson I learned at Intel: if you can imagine it, you can create it and engineer it. By the year 2008, seamless mobility will not be a tagline at an analyst presentation, it will be an expectation we all have in our lives.

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