A new, open phone design revealed by Mozilla yesterday aims to rethink the way users interact with content on mobile platforms.
"While mobile CPUs, connectivity and development platforms begin approaching that of desktops, the lagging ability to efficiently input information has grown ever more pronounced," product designer Billy May explained Thursday in a blog post on the topic.
"Seabird," as May's concept device is known, explores how a multiple-use Bluetooth dongle, for example, could offer new ways to manipulate content directly in a 3D space. Two side pico projectors, meanwhile, could project a virtual keyboard onto a plain surface such as a table, enabling "netbook-quality interaction," May said.
In docking mode, the pico projectors work independently and deliver "laptop levels of efficiency," he added.
The device, reportedly Android-based, was conceived through Mozilla Labs' Concept Series, which takes a crowdsourced approach to furthering innovation around Firefox and the Open Web. Two YouTube videos -- one in 2D and one in 3D -- illustrate the Seabird concept.
Seabird's design stands out for its elegant curved shape and glassy appearance. In addition to the Bluetooth/infrared dongle and pico projectors -- each of which offers a brightness of 45 lumens at 960-by-600-pixel resolution -- the device offers an 8-megapixel camera, a 3.5mm audio jack, wireless charging and a mini USB port.
The embedded dongle offers a Bluetooth headset for calls along with an infrared camera array with 1:1 infrared tracking. One result is that the dongle can be removed from the device and manipulated by hand to control on-screen movements from afar. Haptic clicking is also available on the dongle, making it function as a mouse as well.
Indeed, with its focus on content manipulation and input, it's not hard to imagine the Seabird device -- if it were ever to exist -- becoming an essential mobile tool for business users, outshining altogether today's clumsy smartphone input methods and maybe even eliminating the need for larger devices such as netbooks and tablets.
Sadly, Mozilla does not currently have any plans to turn the Seabird concept into a real device; rather, "Mozilla produces Firefox for Mobile, the popular Firefox browser for mobile phone systems such as Nokia Maemo and Android," it says.
On the other hand, if this concept doesn't capture the attention of HTC or another handset maker, it's hard to imagine what would.
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.