CES, Hardware and Future Relationship(s)

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Future Thoughts Now Column

by Dr. Scott Erdle, Senior Editor


Erdley, S. (February, 2011). CES, Hardware and Future Relationship(s). Future Thoughts Now Column. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI),15 (1). Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=285

Column points:

  • Hardware shift from PC to laptop to tablet to flexible?

Future Thoughts Now I find myself, at this point, pondering the impact technology may impose on the future. Each year for the past several years The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been run for technology companies to show their stuff – this year is no exception. Nonetheless the question is does technology play a role in shaping future directions of health care? How much, if any, does hardware (and software) influence the future?

The CES (International CES, 2011) provides a venue for information technology vendors to display those wares targeted specifically at the consumer. These wares range from televisions (2D & 3D) to computers to audio players. Over the past year the tablet computer form has made a grand entrance into consumer electronics. Apple took the lead with the introduction of the iPad with models utilizing wi-fi and or cellular access. Numerous vendors are currently seeking to capitalize on this popularity (Acer, LG Electronics, and Samsung to mention a few). It is a form factor allowing for not only touch control but also improved mobility, viewing and overall user interactions. In fact the popularity is so strong tablets (primarily iPads) are supplanting PCs and netbook computers in the consumer market with some surveys indicating the tablet is undercutting PC and netbook sales. These devices, primarily employing solid state drives (SSD), boot almost instantly, run far quieter than conventional laptops, and can stay on for much longer periods of time (avoiding the boot process entirely).

One item of particular interest at the CES was the demonstration of a flexible cell phone screen (Dolcourt, 2011). While such screens have been under development in the fast few years this is a smaller footprint than previous iterations. It would appear to be a significant step towards having a computer one can truly roll up and place in one’s pocket. Couple this sort of development with electronic paper and a truly unique interface may come forth for users.

Another interesting development is the apparent diminishment of the Wintel collaboration (Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2011). It would seem Microsoft is endeavoring to shift and incorporate a mobile platform. As such traditional CPU models (aka ‘Intel’) are not capable of the requirements many mobile devices (aka ‘smartphones’) typically require (power + low energy). Additional requirements include code re-writes to ‘fit’ the platform. While Microsoft has been described as having up to 70% of the business application market (meaning Office suite) it has had trouble in recent past entering the mobile world. Such a CPU shift would seem to send a signal Microsoft is quite serious about their effort to gain a significant share of an upcoming market. This would also signal to users smartphones and other such mobile devices will increasingly become utilized not only for specified functions (phone, texting, mobile social media interaction, and so forth) but may also acquire and become additional tools for purchasing goods and services by consumers. This is happening in other parts of the world; the US is coming late to this sort of mobile usefulness.

These are just a few developments I have gleaned from many sources not directly connected and or related to health care / health informatics. Regardless of source, questions nonetheless are just begging for discussion:

  • How will these particular developments impact future interface development and ultimately provider interactions and patient care?
  • Which comes first, the chicken (care) or the egg (technology)? Does it matter?
  • Are such developments encouraging the process towards (technology) ubiquity?

Feel free to post your thoughts to these questions as well as your own questions about technology and ‘the future’ here at OJNI and or email me (erdley@buffalo.edu).

I look forward to reading your ideas and perspectives.


International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). (2011). 2011 International CES wows world with innovation and optimism. Retrieved from http://www.cesweb.org/news/rssNews.asp#4913

Dolcourt, J. (2011). CES: Samsung’s bendable cell phone screen. Retrieved from http://ces.cnet.com/8301-32254_1-20027707-283.html

The Wall Street Journal. (2011). Microsoft alliance with Intel shows age. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808



I have been a Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, and affiliated with the Patient Simulation Center, used by the Nurse Anesthesia and Acute Care NP Programs, since 2000. I received my Doctorate of Nursing Science from the School of Nursing, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. I am also an alumnus of the School of Nursing having earned my B.S.N. and M.S. in 1989 and 1993, respectively. Recently I participated as a fellow in the Medical Informatics (MBL/NLM) Course held at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Spring 2002).

My interests and activities, with healthcare informatics, are currently in the areas of nursing information, information seeking, the use of high-fidelity simulation in education and health care informatics, and portable/personal digital devices. I manage several listservs including the Nrsing-l, the first list dedicated to nursing informatics. I have taught classes about health care informatics as well as the intersection of technology and care in acute care environments to undergraduate and graduate students.

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