Brooks Benefiel took a good look at a smartphone, a tablet and a netbook computer and asked "what do all three have in common?" The answer is processing power.
As everyday mobile devices become ever more powerful with dual-core processors, dedicated GPUs and handy apps, they're starting to bump into each other's respective markets. Benefiel's Piggyback Tablet is a three-in-one concept that might shine a light on how the future of mobile computing will look like: a smartphone as the heart of a tablet and notebook computer.
At first glance, the Piggyback Tablet looks like a close cousin to Motorola's Atrix 4G smartphone and its optional laptop dock. Upon further inspection, it's a little different. Where the Atrix 4G docks into the laptop to become a netbook, the Piggyback is really just three different pieces: smartphone, tablet-sized display and keyboard. When the smartphone is clipped onto the display, the device becomes a "tablet." When the keyboard is attached to the "tablet," a laptop is created. Essentially, the Piggyback Tablet creates two new devices with a smartphone, whereas the Atrix 4G can transform into just one: a netbook.
Everything runs off the smartphone. The benefit to such a design is to eliminate redundancy. Why spend extra money on the hardware inside of a tablet when the guts in your powerful smartphone are practically the same? All you need is the larger screen that the tablet offers. Need to hammer out that long report for your boss? No problem, just slot in a keyboard. Again, the Piggyback Tablet concept is completely powered by the smartphone.
This brings us to the next phase for Benefiel's concept: upgradeability. Because the tablet and laptop is running on the docked smartphone, theoretically, with each new smartphone you buy (likely beefier than the previous one), you'll also be increasing your tablet's performance at the same time. The more cores, more RAM, more storage you gain from each new smartphone will translate over to the tablet and laptop mode.
Benefiel says that such an idea would vastly reduce the amount of electronic trash disposed every year and would save yourself a boatload of money. Yes, it's a bold idea that's entirely possible to create (somebody pitch this to Motorola!), but who will be the first to do it? The future of mobile computing is already shaping up to consist of interchangeable parts for smartphones so it's only natural that concepts like the Piggyback Tablet start rolling out.