So I had a pretty crazy idea this evening. Rather than studying, I’ve been watching this video of Bill Gates’ visit to the University of Waterloo. He got me thinking about what the next big thing would be. To me, the next big thing is obviously going to be about personal connectivity. Things like Twitter show this to a certain extent – the ability to let people know what you are doing and where you are at. The same sort of thing with people’s facebook status message. But wait, there’s more to it than that. What if a person could use this sort of connectivity in a business to somehow increase productivity?
This is when it hit me – how about combining the power of WPF or Silverlight with that of a mobile device? It’s a heck of a lot easier to find a cellular network compared to a WiFi hotspot. A business could put thier application (that is driven by a super-slick user interface, again to streamline things) on a mobile device, and have current updates from the field. No more messing around with waiting to get back to the office to send an email with results. No more sending text messaging results. Use a simple streamlined application to send the results directly to the company database.
Why use WPF/Silverlight? For several reasons.
First of all, no one wants to use some crappy application that features cramped buttons and cryptic user interface that looks more at place on a desktop. Not everyone has fingers as small as a stylus, and not everyone manages to keep track of thier stylus. (Ever lost a pen?)
Second, chances are, the people reporting data from the field aren’t going to be the type who are familiar with complex desktop applications. They’d rather just input the data and move on with the job. A good number of trades-people I have met aren’t the most computer savvy users. They don’t have the time or patience to put up with technology that either takes too long to learn or only works half the time.
Third – Silverlight or WPF could allow for some pretty slick, high contrast user interfaces. I just noticed how incredibly difficult it is to read the LCD screen on my MP3 player (an Archos 404, for the curious) in the sunlight. A nice high contrast user interface could be a heck of a lot easier to read under field conditions than the usual grey-on-grey of you usual app.
Fourth – Marketing. Everyone seems to like shiny, reflective, smooth, or “swooshy” user interfaces. Look at the user interface of the iPhone – everyone seems to eat it up. Competitors feel some great need to copy it. Why? People love it. Menus slide in and out, things scroll smoothly across the screen. Most people love that sort of thing. I imagine that Marketing people love it even more – it makes the product that much more sellable. How many times has a crumby product or device sold just because it “looked cool”? (For example, how many horrible video games have sold on graphics alone? Tons!)
Fifth – the .Net framework is amazing to work with. I’d much rather use the Rolls Royce of development tools to make something. I suspect I’m not the only one either.
So, why hasn’t this been done yet? Well, I don’t really know enough to say. I do have some suspicions that an updated version of Internet Explorer on mobile devices will come soon. Windows Mobile 6.1 was just recently released, so I’d suspect within the next 6 months or so.