Technology I want

Intro

Sometimes in life you find that there is a piece of tech you would like to have but it’s not there. Well, here’s my list. In general, things in the list are either a combination of things or small feature additions. But everything here is totally possible, not some imagined magical devices. Occasionally, there may be something that is highly unpopular, but still present in the market.

The article changes, as I add new ideas or as some things actually come to the market. You can help bring this to the market 🙂

Also, this is a more philosophical article.

The tech I want

Operating time warrantied devices

Do you know how long something will last? Surely there are reviews and even general opinion how this brand of [something] is better than this other one. But no one really knows. What if when you buy an electric shaver, instead of being warrantied for 2 years it comes with 100 hours of shaving warranty? Wouldn’t that be better?

So, what if our devices were warrantied by the use time, not fixed warranty times? This will address 2 things: One is that many products have a warranty that is quite significantly less than what you expect to use the product (say a fridge with 1 year warranty even if we expect to use one for 10 years or more). Yea yea yea, bathtub curve. So what, i want a guarantee not statistics.

And two, it would avoid crappy products that while being cheaper are simply trashing the planet. Why would it work? Say you buy an off brand that is half the price but has the same features. Well, probably the same material resources were used to manufacture it, you are just not paying for a lot of marketing. But if that off brand product has poor quality and it lasts say 4 times less the brand one, then you lost money and consumed natural resources inefficiently. It’s fine if “human invented” resources are used (like money and advertising), but why waste multiple times the same natural resources?

So, with any device where you can easily count how much they are being used, the warranty should be from usage time, not a fixed time from purchase.

USB PD charge everything

USB Power delivery is a standard that allows the delivery of power through USB cables. It is a charger that comes with a standard connector (USB-C) and a way for the device to negociate with the charger and ask for what sort of “juice” it needs. It’s slowly coming to laptops and phones replacing the individual manufacturer/model style. For a while, the EU pushed for phones to have the same type of charger, which resulted in most using mico USB connector and a grand simplification. Now there is a move towards USB-C. But I think that is not enough. I have shaver, camera, power tools, printer, monitor, laptop, speakers, amplifier, NUC computers, networking equipment, computer accessories, toothbrush etc which all fall within the limits of USB-PD but don’t use it. They use their own special charger.

What I would like is that EU and other countries push for:

  • Any device that can be charged with USB-PD (<20V, <100W) should mandatory use that.
  • Manufacturers should not be allowed to include a charger in the package by default (the majority of phones and other devices come with one included so it defeats half of the purpose of having a universal one which is to reduce waste)

Mandatory USB-PD for laptops

Most laptops now don’t support it. For some it would be straight out simple because they fall withing the limits of USB-PD, so for those it should be mandatory. But many higher performance laptops need more power than USB-PD. They are very smart about controlling the power consumption to lower levels while on battery, so they should be able to do that with USB-PD charger that supplies less power than what their big native chargers do. It would be highly useful for travelling.

High fidelity calls using bluetooth

So you know how you get awesome quality when listening to music over bluetooth? Well great quality does not happen during a call, there has not been much improvement here since the early bluetooth versions. The results is that in this world of high fidelity audio calls, if a participant is using a bluetooth headset, out goes that quality.

So just that: give me the full band, low degradation quality that i get through wired headset/phone over bluetooth.

Bluetooth speakers that stay ON when plugged in

The majority of portable bluetooth speakers will shut off after a certain time from disconnection or a certain time of not playing anything to save on battery. What I would like them to do is to disable that auto off if they are plugged in, essentially turning them into an always on available bluetooth speaker.

Bluetooth headphones that fully work with multiple devices at the same time

Actually this exists, it’s called multipoint, but it’s only found in expensive business headsets. I want it to be the normal on regular (say more music oriented) wireless headphones. Why? Because everyone today has a phone and a computer or a tablet or something. Current headphones are a mess when it comes to switching between multiple devices. What i need is simple: you hear the sound of both devices mixed and the mic goes to whichever is in a call (I don’t see the need for having 2 calls at once no matter how much I try).

Class D amplifier from good brands

I made a simple passive mixer for my simple crappy class D amplifier (which has quite a good sound quality btw and cost only 20 euro). For more than 2 years it’s been my living room amplifier and it’s gorgeous: enough power, good quality, super low power consumption so it stays always on and it mixes multiple sources (chromecast, HTPC, aux). Well, the build quality of it is crappy, it could clearly be made from better components. Connectors are starting to fail even if I am not actually touching it and the volume knob which I am also not touching is starting to induce noise.

So, what is needed is:

  • [big brand in amplifiers] that knows what they are doing, uses quality components
  • Super efficient class D, with good quality, so it is lower cost and compact
  • Low power (<1W) when ON and no signal so I don’t have to worry about turning it ON and OFF
  • Multiple inputs that are mixed: all sound is automatically heard

USB cables with LED at the end

Some laptops (mostly Dell) have power cables with an LED at the end. I wish all chargers had that. The universal USB-PD chargers that I want (see above) would be cool to have.

Open camera operating system

I had a digital camera for more than 20 years, and it’s an important tool, even if it’s becoming less and less used due to smartphones. Still, the way it works now is that even though modern digital cameras are pretty much computers just like your smartphone, you can’t add software to them. Which is bad, because there are tons of improvements or features they could have. Instead, many manufacturers use software as a differentiation factor. For example cheaper cameras cannot take x pictures at y interval for you, but all those other more expensive can. Or slowly adding features in newer models. In the Canon world, there is CHDK which is an alternative software that works on some canon cameras which improves them and adds features. Samsung tried android cameras, which I think is a super idea, unfortunately it never caught on because Samsung never was a relevant player in the camera world.

Honestly, I had enough of Nikon, Canon, Sony and other sucking at software and their stupid marketing tactics. I want a camera (DSLR, Mirrorless) which is just an empty shell with buttons and a big sensor to which I hook up my smartphone for usage and processing.

Cameras charging over USB

I have no idea what is wrong with camera manufacturers, but they seem to be afraid of USB charging like it’s the devil. Sure, swappable batteries are the norm (thankfully because they are needed) but they seem to be stuck in some 1990s era where you have to have a dedicated box that plugs in and can only charge that one type of battery (yea yea yea, money). Even more, my camera charger (nikon D7500) is like 4.5 times worse in power/weight than my phone charger. But cameras are significantly used while travelling or on the go (Corona lockdown excluded) so why not add a few cents of parts and make the USB port on the camera that is already included for data also a charge port?  (Also, you can buy USB chargers for almost all batteries, which is what i normally use).

“Normal” WiFi for cameras

My camera (D7500) like most (all?) cameras nowadays that have WiFi seem to work only in this very limited mode of direct connection between the camera and the device you use (phone/computer). The whole universe o has to stop so my computer/phone can dedicate their whole attention and connection to the camera. They don’t work the traditional way where you take them home and then say “hey this is Bob, my WiFi and you can talk to him using the secret code 12345678″ and then they use Bob to talk to that app on your phone or PC. So simply, the normal way of using WiFi, with an access point, would be quite useful for cameras. And don’t get my started on the crappy speed…but I’ll leave that for another time.

No battery external flash

External flashes for cameras come with their own battery to alleviate the strain on the camera one and to make sure the two can work for a high number of pictures. But I would prefer if the flash could draw power from the camera battery when a dedicated one is not plugged in. This simplifies my life by not having two separate types of batteries and chargers and significantly saving weight, even if this comes at the expense of a shorter camera battery life.

Smartphones: separate hardware and software manufacturers

Well it’s crappy with smartphones. Android is open source which has resulted in manufacturers taking it and modifying it so much that it practically becomes an operating system unique to a phone model. And then they limit the number of updates and fixes. So your Android phone might get 2 years of updates, your Apple might get you a bit more, but this is nothing compared to the 10+ year support for Windows or Linux operating systems. This is what I want: an independent operating system manufacturer that updates it with new functionality, even if it is limited on running a bit slow on older hardware. Kind of like Windows/Linux and computer (parts) manufacturers.

Because hardware is not advancing so fast: we have high speed processors, high speed data, screens as big as we can hold, gorgeous cameras. Unless I break it, I see no reason why phones should become old in 2 years. My laptop is 6 years old, yet buying a new one at the same price point (adjusted for inflation) gives me overall about 50% more performance (a bit more so in the graphics department if I am willing to accept an even bigger charger).

Dual fingerprint sensor on the phone

One in the back, one in the front. Because which I use is heavily dependent on where I am reaching for the phone from. Ok, it might be that if the front facing fingerprint sensor would be half the size of the screen, that could also do.

Bike finder

You know how you can find your car in the parking lot by using the remote. Well, i want that for bikes…. a light that can indicate where it is which i can activate from the phone (not dedicated remote). But no IOT mobile data huge battery on bike monthly subscription not working in underground thing. I am working on this one… on paper at least.

Quiet 3D printers

For devices that need to run in homes (some of them) and for long hours, 3D printers are too noisy. I spend quite some effort to make my first one quieter and then my second one as well. It’t not that technology is not here, it is. Just that manufacturers continue to make noisy machines just for the sake of cost reduction.

Sleepy smart bulbs be energy efficient

Yes, LED lightning is very energy efficient. But with the reduction in cost and advent of IOT, we now have plenty of smart light bulbs that various remote control ways. Just one problem: for the light to be remotely controllable, it needs to be powered continuously (so you leave the wall switch on) so that the radio and microprocessor inside can receive commands. Now, while regulations ask for the efficiency of the bulb when ON, nothing is said about its stand-by power. This is the same problem with microwave ovens ending up using more energy to display the clock than heating food. My IKEA TRĂ…DFRI lights burn about 10% of their rated power while in sleep mode, powered on and waiting for a command, but with no light. That is the equivalent of running for 2 and a half hours a day, so for any upgrade from dumb to smart it’s like you are adding 2.5 hours of use per day.  It’s worse for cheaper brands of things that use WiFi.

We have the technology and it’s a matter of not making the product cheaper in the store but making it cheaper in the long term.

 

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One Comment

  1. Totally agree with quiet 3D printers and “Normal” WiFi for Cameras.
    I love USB-PD too, check out my post about it: https://pranavmittal.tech/using-a-usb-c-pd-module-to-power-your-projects/

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